Part 16 out of 22
that it was over, that what was to have been said would not be
said; and their emotion, which had up to then been continually
growing more intense, began to subside.
"The birch mushroom's stalk suggests a dark man's chin after two
days without shaving," said Sergey Ivanovitch, speaking quite
"Yes, that's true," answered Varenka smiling, and unconsciously
the direction of their walk changed. They began to turn towards
the children. Varenka felt both sore and ashamed; at the same
time she had a sense of relief.
When he had got home again and went over the whole subject,
Sergey Ivanovitch thought his previous decision had been a
mistaken one. He could not be false to the memory of Marie.
"Gently, children, gently!" Levin shouted quite angrily to the
children, standing before his wife to protect her when the crowd
of children flew with shrieks of delight to meet them.
Behind the children Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka walked out of
the wood. Kitty had no need to ask Varenka; she saw from the
calm and somewhat crestfallen faces of both that her plans had
not come off.
"Well?" her husband questioned her as they were going home again.
"It doesn't bite," said Kitty, her smile and manner of speaking
recalling her father, a likeness Levin often noticed with
"How doesn't bite?"
"I'll show you," she said, taking her husband's hand, lifting it
to her mouth, and just faintly brushing it with closed lips.
"Like a kiss on a priest's hand."
"Which didn't it bite with?" he said, laughing.
"Both. But it should have been like this..."
"There are some peasants coming..."
"Oh, they didn't see."
During the time of the children's tea the grown-up people sat in
the balcony and talked as though nothing had happened, though
they all, especially Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka, were very
well aware that there had happened an event which, though
negative, was of very great importance. They both had the same
feeling, rather like that of a schoolboy after an examination,
which has left him in the same class or shut him out of the
school forever. Everyone present, feeling too that something
had happened, talked eagerly about extraneous subjects. Levin
and Kitty were particularly happy and conscious of their love
that evening. And their happiness in their love seemed to imply
a disagreeable slur on those who would have liked to feel the
same and could not--and they felt a prick of conscience.
"Mark my words, Alexander will not come," said the old princess.
That evening they were expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch to come down
by train, and the old prince had written that possibly he might
"And I know why," the princess went on; "he says that young
people ought to be left alone for a while at first."
"But papa has left us alone. We've never seen him," said Kitty.
"Besides, we're not young people!--we're old, married people by
"Only if he doesn't come, I shall say good-bye to you children,"
said the princess, sighing mournfully.
"What nonsense, mamma!" both the daughters fell upon her at once.
"How do you suppose he is feeling? Why, now..."
And suddenly there was an unexpected quiver in the princess's
voice. Her daughters were silent, and looked at one another.
"Maman always finds something to be miserable about," they said
in that glance. They did not know that happy as the princess was
in her daughter's house, and useful as she felt herself to be
there, she had been extremely miserable, both on her own account
and her husband's, ever since they had married their last and
favorite daughter, and the old home had been left empty.
"What is it, Agafea Mihalovna?" Kitty asked suddenly of Agafea
Mihalovna, who was standing with a mysterious air, and a face
full of meaning.
"Well, that's right," said Dolly; "you go and arrange about it,
and I'll go and hear Grisha repeat his lesson, or else he will
have nothing done all day."
"That's my lesson! No, Dolly, I'm going," said Levin, jumping
Grisha, who was by now at a high school, had to go over the
lessons of the term in the summer holidays. Darya Alexandrovna,
who had been studying Latin with her son in Moscow before, had
made it a rule on coming to the Levins' to go over with him, at
least once a day, the most difficult lessons of Latin and
arithmetic. Levin had offered to take her place, but the mother,
having once overheard Levin's lesson, and noticing that it was
not given exactly as the teacher in Moscow had given it, said
resolutely, though with much embarrassment and anxiety not to
mortify Levin, that they must keep strictly to the book as the
teacher had done, and that she had better undertake it again
herself. Levin was amazed both at Stepan Arkadyevitch, who, by
neglecting his duty, threw upon the mother the supervision of
studies of which she had no comprehension, and at the teachers
for teaching the children so badly. But he promised his
sister-in-law to give the lessons exactly as she wished. And he
went on teaching Grisha, not in his own way, but by the book, and
so took little interest in it, and often forgot the hour of the
lesson. So it had been today.
"No, I'm going, Dolly, you sit still," he said. "We'll do it all
properly, like the book. Only when Stiva comes, and we go out
shooting, then we shall have to miss it."
And Levin went to Grisha.
Varenka was saying the same thing to Kitty. Even in the happy,
well-ordered household of the Levins Varenka had succeeded in
making herself useful.
"I'll see to the supper, you sit still," she said, and got up to
go to Agafea Mihalovna.
"Yes, yes, most likely they've not been able to get chickens. If
"Agafea Mihalovna and I will see about it," and Varenka vanished
"What a nice girl!" said the princess.
"Not nice, maman; she's an exquisite girl; there's no one else
"So you are expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch today?" said Sergey
Ivanovitch, evidently not disposed to pursue the conversation
about Varenka. "It would be difficult to find two sons-in-law
more unlike than yours," he said with a subtle smile. "One all
movement, only living in society, like a fish in water; the other
our Kostya, lively, alert, quick in everything, but as soon as he
is in society, he either sinks into apathy, or struggles
helplessly like a fish on land."
"Yes, he's very heedless," said the princess, addressing Sergey
Ivanovitch. "I've been meaning, indeed, to ask you to tell him
that it's out of the question for her" (she indicated Kitty) "to
stay here; that she positively must come to Moscow. He talks of
getting a doctor down..."
"Maman, he'll do everything; he has agreed to everything," Kitty
said, angry with her mother for appealing to Sergey Ivanovitch to
judge in such a matter.
In the middle of their conversation they heard the snorting of
horses and the sound of wheels on the gravel. Dolly had not time
to get up to go and meet her husband, when from the window of the
room below, where Grisha was having his lesson, Levin leaped out
and helped Grisha out after him.
"It's Stiva!" Levin shouted from under the balcony. "We've
finished, Dolly, don't be afraid!" he added, and started running
like a boy to meet the carriage.
"Is ea id, ejus, ejus, ejus!" shouted Grisha, skipping along the
"And some one else too! Papa, of course!" cried Levin, stopping
at the entrance of the avenue. "Kitty, don't come down the steep
staircase, go round."
But Levin had been mistaken in taking the person sitting in the
carriage for the old prince. As he got nearer to the carriage he
saw beside Stepan Arkadyevitch not the prince but a handsome,
stout young man in a Scotch cap, with long ends of ribbon behind.
This was Vassenka Veslovsky, a distant cousin of the
Shtcherbatskys, a brilliant young gentleman in Petersburg and
Moscow society. "A capital fellow, and a keen sportsman," as
Stepan Arkadyevitch said, introducing him.
Not a whit abashed by the disappointment caused by his having
come in place of the old prince, Veslovsky greeted Levin gaily,
claiming acquaintance with him in the past, and snatching up
Grisha into the carriage, lifted him over the pointer that Stepan
Arkadyevitch had brought with him.
Levin did not get into the carriage, but walked behind. He was
rather vexed at the non-arrival of the old prince, whom he liked
more and more the more he saw of him, and also at the arrival of
this Vassenka Veslovsky, a quite uncongenial and superfluous
person. He seemed to him still more uncongenial and superfluous
when, on approaching the steps where the whole party, children
and grown-up, were gathered together in much excitement, Levin
saw Vassenka Veslovsky, with a particularly warm and gallant air,
kissing Kitty's hand.
"Your wife and I are cousins and very old friends," said
Vassenka Veslovsky, once more shaking Levin's hand with great
"Well, are there plenty of birds?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to
Levin, hardly leaving time for everyone to utter their greetings.
"We've come with the most savage intentions. Why, maman, they've
not been in Moscow since! Look, Tanya, here's something for you!
Get it, please, it's in the carriage, behind!" he talked in all
directions. "How pretty you've grown, Dolly," he said to his
wife, once more kissing her hand, holding it in one of his, and
patting it with the other.
Levin, who a minute before had been in the happiest frame of
mind, now looked darkly at everyone, and everything displeased
"Who was it he kissed yesterday with those lips?" he thought,
looking at Stepan Arkadyevitch's tender demonstrations to his
wife. He looked at Dolly, and he did not like her either.
"She doesn't believe in his love. So what is she so pleased
about? Revolting!" thought Levin.
He looked at the princess, who had been so dear to him a minute
before, and he did not like the manner in which she welcomed this
Vassenka, with his ribbons, just as though she were in her own
Even Sergey Ivanovitch, who had come out too onto the steps,
seemed to him unpleasant with the show of cordiality with which
he met Stepan Arkadyevitch, though Levin knew that his brother
neither liked nor respected Oblonsky.
And Varenka, even she seemed hateful, with her air sainte
nitouche making the acquaintance of this gentleman, while all the
while she was thinking of nothing but getting married.
And more hateful than anyone was Kitty for falling in with the
tone of gaiety with which this gentleman regarded his visit in
the country, as though it were a holiday for himself and everyone
else. And, above all, unpleasant was that particular smile with
which she responded to his smile.
Noisily talking, they all went into the house; but as soon as
they were all seated, Levin turned and went out.
Kitty saw something was wrong with her husband. She tried to
seize a moment to speak to him alone, but he made haste to get
away from her, saying he was wanted at the counting-house. It
was long since his own work on the estate had seemed to him so
important as at that moment. "It's all holiday for them," he
thought; "but these are no holiday matters, they won't wait, and
there's no living without them."
Levin came back to the house only when they sent to summon him to
supper. On the stairs were standing Kitty and Agafea Mihalovna,
consulting about wines for supper.
"But why are you making all this fuss? Have what we usually do."
"No, Stiva doesn't drink...Kostya, stop, what's the matter?"
Kitty began, hurrying after him, but he strode ruthlessly away to
the dining room without waiting for her, and at once joined in
the lively general conversation which was being maintained there
by Vassenka Veslovsky and Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Well, what do you say, are we going shooting tomorrow?" said
"Please, do let's go," said Veslovsky, moving to another chair,
where he sat down sideways, with one fat leg crossed under him.
"I shall be delighted, we will go. And have you had any shooting
yet this year?" said Levin to Veslovsky, looking intently at his
leg, but speaking with that forced amiability that Kitty knew so
well in him, and that was so out of keeping with him. "I can't
answer for our finding grouse, but there are plenty of snipe.
Only we ought to start early. You're not tired? Aren't you
"Me tired? I've never been tired yet. Suppose we stay up all
night. Let's go for a walk!"
"Yes, really, let's not go to bed at all! Capital!" Veslovsky
"Oh, we all know you can do without sleep, and keep other people
up too," Dolly said to her husband, with that faint note of irony
in her voice which she almost always had now with her husband.
"But to my thinking, it's time for bed now.... I'm going, I
don't want supper."
"No, do stay a little, Dolly," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, going
round to her side behind the table where they were having supper.
"I've so much still to tell you."
"Nothing really, I suppose."
"Do you know Veslovsky has been at Anna's, and he's going to them
again? You know they're hardly fifty miles from you, and I too
must certainly go over there. Veslovsky, come here!"
Vassenka crossed over to the ladies, and sat down beside Kitty.
"Ah, do tell me, please; you have stayed with her? How was she?"
Darya Alexandrovna appealed to him.
Levin was left at the other end of the table, and though never
pausing in his conversation with the princess and Varenka, he saw
that there was an eager and mysterious conversation going on
between Stepan Arkadyevitch, Dolly, Kitty, and Veslovsky. And
that was not all. He saw on his wife's face an expression of
real feeling as she gazed with fixed eyes on the handsome face of
Vassenka, who was telling them something with great animation.
"It's exceedingly nice at their place," Veslovsky was telling
them about Vronsky and Anna. "I can't, of course, take it upon
myself to judge, but in their house you feel the real feeling of
"What do they intend doing?"
"I believe they think of going to Moscow."
"How jolly it would be for us all to go over to them together'
When are you going there?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked Vassenka.
"I'm spending July there."
"Will you go?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to his wife.
"I've been wanting to a long while; I shall certainly go," said
Dolly. "I am sorry for her, and I know her. She's a splendid
woman. I will go alone, when you go back, and then I shall be in
no one's way. And it will be better indeed without you."
"To be sure," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "And you, Kitty?"
"I? Why should I go?" Kitty said, flushing all over, and she
glanced round at her husband.
"Do you know Anna Arkadyevna, then?" Veslovsky asked her. "She's
a very fascinating woman."
"Yes," she answered Veslovsky, crimsoning still more. She got up
and walked across to her husband.
"Are you going shooting, then, tomorrow?" she said.
His jealousy had in these few moments, especially at the flush
that had overspread her cheeks while she was talking to
Veslovsky, gone far indeed. Now as he heard her words, he
construed them in his own fashion. Strange as it was to him
afterwards to recall it, it seemed to him at the moment clear
that in asking whether he was going shooting, all she cared to
know was whether he would give that pleasure to Vassenka
Veslovsky, with whom, as he fancied, she was in love.
"Yes, I'm going," he answered her in an unnatural voice,
disagreeable to himself.
"No, better spend the day here tomorrow, or Dolly won't see
anything of her husband, and set off the day after," said Kitty.
The motive of Kitty's words was interpreted by Levin thus: "Don't
separate me from HIM. I don't care about YOUR going, but do let
me enjoy the society of this delightful young man."
"Oh, if you wish, we'll stay here tomorrow," Levin answered,
with peculiar amiability.
Vassenka meanwhile, utterly unsuspecting the misery his presence
had occasioned, got up from the table after Kitty, and watching
her with smiling and admiring eyes, he followed her.
Levin saw that look. He turned white, and for a minute he could
hardly breathe. "How dare he look at my wife like that!" was the
feeling that boiled within him.
"Tomorrow, then? Do, please, let us go," said Vassenka, sitting
down on a chair, and again crossing his leg as his habit was.
Levin's jealousy went further still. Already he saw himself a
deceived husband, looked upon by his wife and her lover as simply
necessary to provide them with the conveniences and pleasures of
life.... But in spite of that he made polite and hospitable
inquiries of Vassenka about his shooting, his gun, and his boots,
and agreed to go shooting next day.
Happily for Levin, the old princess cut short his agonies by
getting up herself and advising Kitty to go to bed. But even at
this point Levin could not escape another agony. As he said
good-night to his hostess, Vassenka would again have kissed her
hand, but Kitty, reddening, drew back her hand and said with a
naive bluntness, for which the old princess scolded her
"We don't like that fashion."
In Levin's eyes she was to blame for having allowed such
relations to arise, and still more to blame for showing so
awkwardly that she did not like them.
"Why, how can one want to go to bed!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
who, after drinking several glasses of wine at supper, was now in
his most charming and sentimental humor. "Look, Kitty," he said,
pointing to the moon, which had just risen behind the lime trees
--"how exquisite! Veslovsky, this is the time for a serenade.
You know, he has a splendid voice; we practiced songs together
along the road. He has brought some lovely songs with him, two
new ones. Varvara Andreevna and he must sing some duets."
When the party had broken up, Stepan Arkadyevitch walked a long
while about the avenue with Veslovsky; their voices could be
heard singing one of the new songs.
Levin hearing these voices sat scowling in an easy-chair in his
wife's bedroom, and maintained an obstinate silence when she
asked him what was wrong. But when at last with a timid glance
she hazarded the question: "Was there perhaps something you
disliked about Veslovsky?"--it all burst out, and he told her
all. He was humiliated himself at what he was saying, and that
exasperated him all the more.
He stood facing her with his eyes glittering menacingly under his
scowling brows, and he squeezed his strong arms across his chest,
as though he were straining every nerve to hold himself in. The
expression of his face would have been grim, and even cruel, if
it had not at the same time had a look of suffering which touched
her. His jaws were twitching, and his voice kept breaking.
"You must understand that I'm not jealous, that's a nasty word.
I can't be jealous, and believe that.... I can't say what I
feel, but this is awful.... I'm not jealous, but I'm wounded,
humiliated that anybody dare think, that anybody dare look at
you with eyes like that."
"Eyes like what?" said Kitty, trying as conscientiously as
possible to recall every word and gesture of that evening and
every shade implied in them.
At the very bottom of her heart she did think there had been
something precisely at the moment when he had crossed over after
her to the other end of the table; but she dared not own it even
to herself, and would have been even more unable to bring herself
to say so to him, and so increase his suffering.
"And what can there possibly be attractive about me as I am
"Ah!" he cried, clutching at his head, "you shouldn't say
that!... If you had been attractive then..."
"Oh, no, Kostya, oh, wait a minute, oh, do listen!" she said,
looking at him with an expression of pained commiseration. "Why,
what can you be thinking about! When for me there's no one in
the world, no one, no one!... Would you like me never to see
For the first minute she had been offended at his jealousy; she
was angry that the slightest amusement, even the most innocent,
should be forbidden her; but now she would readily have
sacrificed, not merely such trifles, but everything, for his
peace of mind, to save him from the agony he was suffering.
"You must understand the horror and comedy of my position," he
went on in a desperate whisper; "that he's in my house, that he's
done nothing improper positively except his free and easy airs
and the way he sits on his legs. He thinks it's the best
possible form, and so I'm obliged to be civil to him."
"But, Kostya, you're exaggerating," said Kitty, at the bottom of
her heart rejoicing at the depth of his love for her, shown now
in his jealousy.
"The most awful part of it all is that you're just as you always
are, and especially now when to me you're something sacred, and
we're so happy, so particularly happy--and all of a sudden a
little wretch.... He's not a little wretch; why should I abuse
him? I have nothing to do with him. But why should my, and
"Do you know, I understand now what it's all come from," Kitty
"Well, what? what?"
"I saw how you looked while we were talking at supper."
"Well, well!" Levin said in dismay.
She told him what they had been talking about. And as she told
him, she was breathless with emotion. Levin was silent for a
space, then he scanned her pale and distressed face, and suddenly
he clutched at his head.
"Katya, I've been worrying you! Darling, forgive me! It's
madness! Katya, I'm a criminal. And how could you be so
distressed at such idiocy?"
"Oh, I was sorry for you."
"For me? for me? How mad I am!... But why make you miserable?
It's awful to think that any outsider can shatter our happiness."
"It's humiliating too, of course."
"Oh, then I'll keep him here all the summer, and will overwhelm
him with civility," said Levin, kissing her hands. "You shall
see. Tomorrow.... Oh, yes, we are going tomorrow."
Next day, before the ladies were up, the wagonette and a trap for
the shooting party were at the door, and Laska, aware since early
morning that they were going shooting, after much whining and
darting to and fro, had sat herself down in the wagonette beside
the coachman, and, disapproving of the delay, was excitedly
watching the door from which the sportsmen still did not come
out. The first to come out was Vassenka Veslovsky, in new high
boots that reached half-way up his thick thighs, in a green
blouse, with a new Russian leather cartridge-belt, and in his
Scotch cap with ribbons, with a brand-new English gun without a
sling. Laska flew up to him, welcomed him, and jumping up, asked
him in her own way whether the others were coming soon, but
getting no answer from him, she returned to her post of
observation and sank into repose again, her head on one side, and
one ear pricked up to listen. At last the door opened with a
creak, and Stepan Arkadyevitch's spot-and-tan pointer Krak flew
out, running round and round and turning over in the air. Stepan
Arkadyevitch himself followed with a gun in his hand and a cigar
in his mouth.
"Good dog, good dog, Krak!" he cried encouragingly to the dog,
who put his paws up on his chest, catching at his game bag.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was dressed in rough leggings and spats, in
torn trousers and a short coat. On his head there was a wreck of
a hat of indefinite form, but his gun of a new patent was a
perfect gem, and his game bag and cartridge belt, though worn,
were of the very best quality.
Vassenka Veslovsky had had no notion before that it was truly
chic for a sportsman to be in tatters, but to have his shooting
outfit of the best quality. He saw it now as he looked at Stepan
Arkadyevitch, radiant in his rags, graceful, well-fed, and
joyous, a typical Russian nobleman. And he made up his mind that
next time he went shooting he would certainly adopt the same
"Well, and what about our host?" he asked.
"A young wife," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling.
"Yes, and such a charming one!"
"He came down dressed. No doubt he's run up to her again."
Stepan Arkadyevitch guessed right. Levin had run up again to his
wife to ask her once more If she forgave him for his idiocy
yesterday, and, moreover, to beg her for Christ's sake to be more
careful. The great thing was for her to keep away from the
children--they might any minute push against her. Then he had
once more to hear her declare that she was not angry with him for
going away for two days, and to beg her to be sure to send him a
note next morning by a servant on horseback, to write him, if it
were but two words only, to let him know that all was well with
Kitty was distressed, as she always was, at parting for a couple
of days from her husband, but when she saw his eager figure,
looking big and strong in his shooting-boots and his white
blouse, and a sort of sportsman elation and excitement
incomprehensible to her, she forgot her own chagrin for the sake
of his pleasure, and said good-bye to him cheerfully.
"Pardon, gentlemen!" he said, running out onto the steps. "Have
you put the lunch in? Why is the chestnut on the right? Well,
it doesn't matter. Laska, down; go and lie down!"
"Put it with the herd of oxen," he said to the herdsman, who was
waiting for him at the steps with some question. "Excuse me,
here comes another villain."
Levin jumped out of the wagonette, in which he had already taken
his seat, to meet the carpenter, who came towards the steps with
a rule in his hand.
"You didn't come to the counting house yesterday, and now you're
detaining me. Well, what is it?"
"Would your honor let me make another turning? It's only three
steps to add. And we make it just fit at the same time. It will
be much more convenient."
"You should have listened to me," Levin answered with annoyance.
"I said: Put the lines and then fit in the steps. Now there's
no setting it right. Do as I told you, and make a new
The point was that in the lodge that was being built the
carpenter had spoiled the staircase, fitting it together without
calculating the space it was to fill, so that the steps were all
sloping when it was put in place. Now the carpenter wanted,
keeping the same staircase, to add three steps.
"It will be much better."
"But where's your staircase coming out with its three steps?"
"Why, upon my word, sir," the carpenter said with a contemptuous
smile. "It comes out right at the very spot. It starts, so to
speak," he said, with a persuasive gesture; "it comes down, and
comes down, and comes out."
"But three steps will add to the length too...where is it to
"Why, to be sure, it'll start from the bottom and go up and go
up, and come out so," the carpenter said obstinately and
"It'll reach the ceiling and the wall."
"Upon my word! Why, it'll go up, and up, and come out like
Levin took out a ramrod and began sketching him the staircase in
"There, do you see?"
"As your honor likes," said the carpenter, with a sudden gleam in
his eyes, obviously understanding the thing at last. "It seems
it'll be best to make a new one."
"Well, then, do it as you're told," Levin shouted, seating
himself in the wagonette. "Down! Hold the dogs, Philip!"
Levin felt now at leaving behind all his family and household
cares such an eager sense of joy in life and expectation that he
was not disposed to talk. Besides that, he had that feeling of
concentrated excitement that every sportsman experiences as he
approaches the scene of action. If he had anything on his mind
at that moment, it was only the doubt whether they would start
anything in the Kolpensky marsh, whether Laska would show to
advantage in comparison with Krak, and whether he would shoot
well that day himself. Not to disgrace himself before a new
spectator--not to be outdone by Oblonsky--that too was a thought
that crossed his brain.
Oblonsky was feeling the same, and he too was not talkative.
Vassenka Veslovsky kept up alone a ceaseless flow of cheerful
chatter. As he listened to him now, Levin felt ashamed to think
how unfair he had been to him the day before. Vassenka was
really a nice fellow, simple, good-hearted, and very
good-humored. If Levin had met him before he was married, he
would have made friends with him. Levin rather disliked his
holiday attitude to life and a sort of free and easy assumption
of elegance. It was as though he assumed a high degree of
importance in himself that could not be disputed, because he had
long nails and a stylish cap, and everything else to correspond;
but this could be forgiven for the sake of his good nature and
good breeding. Levin liked him for his good education, for
speaking French and English with such an excellent accent, and
for being a man of his world.
Vassenka was extremely delighted with the left horse, a horse of
the Don Steppes. He kept praising him enthusiastically. "How
fine it must be galloping over the steppes on a steppe horse!
Eh? isn't it?" he said. He had imagined riding on a steppe horse
as something wild and romantic, and it turned out nothing of the
sort. But his simplicity, particularly in conjunction with his
good looks, his amiable smile, and the grace of his movements,
was very attractive. Either because his nature was sympathetic
to Levin, or because Levin was trying to atone for his sins of
the previous evening by seeing nothing but what was good in him,
anyway he liked his society.
After they had driven over two miles from home, Veslovsky all at
once felt for a cigar and his pocketbook, and did not know
whether he had lost them or left them on the table. In the
pocketbook there were thirty-seven pounds, and so the matter
could not be left in uncertainty.
"Do you know what, Levin, I'll gallop home on that left
trace-horse. That will be splendid. Eh?" he said, preparing to
"No, why should you?" answered Levin, calculating that Vassenka
could hardly weigh less than seventeen stone. "I'll send the
The coachman rode back on the trace-horse, and Levin himself
drove the remaining pair.
"Well, now what's our plan of campaign? Tell us all about it,"
said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Our plan is this. Now we're driving to Gvozdyov. In Gvozdyov
there's a grouse marsh on this side, and beyond Gvozdyov come
some magnificent snipe marshes where there are grouse too. It's
hot now, and we'll get there--it's fifteen miles or so--towards
evening and have some evening shooting; we'll spend the night
there and go on tomorrow to the bigger moors."
"And is there nothing on the way?"
"Yes; but we'll reserve ourselves; besides it's hot. There are
two nice little places, but I doubt there being anything to
Levin would himself have liked to go into these little places,
but they were near home; he could shoot them over any time, and
they were only little places--there would hardly be room for
three to shoot. And so, with some insincerity, he said that he
doubted there being anything to shoot. When they reached a
little marsh Levin would have driven by, but Stepan Arkadyevitch,
with the experienced eye of a sportsman, at once detected reeds
visible from the road.
"Shan't we try that?" he said, pointing to the little marsh.
"Levin, do, please! how delightful!" Vassenka Veslovsky began
begging, and Levin could but consent.
Before they had time to stop, the dogs had flown one before the
other into the marsh.
The dogs came back.
"There won't be room for three. I'll stay here," said Levin,
hoping they would find nothing but peewits, who had been startled
by the dogs, and turning over in their flight, were plaintively
wailing over the marsh.
"No! Come along, Levin, let's go together!" Veslovsky called.
"Really, there's not room. Laska, back, Laska! You won't want
another dog, will you?"
Levin remained with the wagonette, and looked enviously at the
sportsmen. They walked right across the marsh. Except little
birds and peewits, of which Vassenka killed one, there was
nothing in the marsh.
"Come, you see now that it was not that I grudged the marsh,"
said Levin, "only it's wasting time."
"Oh, no, it was jolly all the same. Did you see us?" said
Vassenka Veslovsky, clambering awkwardly into the wagonette with
his gun and his peewit in his hands. "How splendidly I shot
this bird! Didn't I? Well, shall we soon be getting to the real
The horses started off suddenly, Levin knocked his head against
the stock of someone's gun, and there was the report of a shot.
The gun did actually go off first, but that was how it seemed to
Levin. It appeared that Vassenka Veslovsky had pulled only one
trigger, and had left the other hammer still cocked. The charge
flew into the ground without doing harm to anyone. Stepan
Arkadyevitch shook his head and laughed reprovingly at Veslovsky.
But Levin had not the heart to reprove him. In the first place,
any reproach would have seemed to be called forth by the danger
he had incurred and the bump that had come up on Levin's
forehead. And besides, Veslovsky was at first so naively
distressed, and then laughed so good-humoredly and infectiously
at their general dismay, that one could not but laugh with him.
When they reached the second marsh, which was fairly large, and
would inevitably take some time to shoot over, Levin tried to
persuade them to pass it by. But Veslovsky again overpersuaded
him. Again, as the marsh was narrow, Levin, like a good host,
remained with the carriage.
Krak made straight for some clumps of sedge. Vassenka Veslovsky
was the first to run after the dog. Before Stepan Arkadyevitch
had time to come up, a grouse flew out. Veslovsky missed it and
it flew into an unmown meadow. This grouse was left for
Veslovsky to follow up. Krak found it again and pointed, and
Veslovsky shot it and went back to the carriage. "Now you go and
I'll stay with the horses," he said.
Levin had begun to feel the pangs of a sportsman's envy. He
handed the reins to Veslovsky and walked into the marsh.
Laska, who had been plaintively whining and fretting against the
injustice of her treatment, flew straight ahead to a hopeful
place that Levin knew well, and that Krak had not yet come upon.
"Why don't you stop her?" shouted Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"She won't scare them," answered Levin, sympathizing with his
bitch's pleasure and hurrying after her.
As she came nearer and nearer to the familiar breeding places
there was more and more earnestness in Laska's exploration. A
little marsh bird did not divert her attention for more than an
instant. She made one circuit round the clump of reeds, was
beginning a second, and suddenly quivered with excitement and
"Come, come, Stiva!" shouted Levin, feeling his heart beginning
to beat more violently; and all of a sudden, as though some sort
of shutter had been drawn back from his straining ears, all
sounds, confused but loud, began to beat on his hearing, losing
all sense of distance. He heard the steps of Stepan
Arkadyevitch, mistaking them for the tramp of the horses in the
distance; he heard the brittle sound of the twigs on which he had
trodden, taking this sound for the flying of a grouse. He heard
too, not far behind him, a splashing in the water, which he could
not explain to himself.
Picking his steps, he moved up to the dog.
Not a grouse but a snipe flew up from beside the dog. Levin had
lifted his gun, but at the very instant when he was taking aim,
the sound of splashing grew louder, came closer, and was joined
with the sound of Veslovsky's voice, shouting something with
strange loudness. Levin saw he had his gun pointed behind the
snipe, but still he fired.
When he had made sure he had missed, Levin looked round and saw
the horses and the wagonette not on the road but in the marsh.
Veslovsky, eager to see the shooting, had driven into the marsh,
and got the horses stuck in the mud.
"Damn the fellow!" Levin said to himself, as he went back to the
carriage that had sunk in the mire. "What did you drive in for?"
he said to him dryly, and calling the coachman, he began pulling
the horses out.
Levin was vexed both at being hindered from shooting and at his
horses getting stuck in the mud, and still more at the fact that
neither Stepan Arkadyevitch nor Veslovsky helped him and the
coachman to unharness the horses and get them out, since neither
of them had the slightest notion of harnessing. Without
vouchsafing a syllable in reply to Vassenka's protestations that
it had been quite dry there, Levin worked in silence with the
coachman at extricating the horses. But then, as he got warm at
the work and saw how assiduously Veslovsky was tugging at the
wagonette by one of the mud-guards, so that he broke it indeed,
Levin blamed himself for having under the influence of
yesterday's feelings been too cold to Veslovsky, and tried to be
particularly genial so as to smooth over his chilliness. When
everything had been put right, and the carriage had been brought
back to the road, Levin had the lunch served.
"Bon appetit--bonne conscience! Ce poulet va tomber jusqu'au
fond de mes bottes," Vassenka, who had recovered his spirits,
quoted the French saying as he finished his second chicken.
"Well, now our troubles are over, now everything's going to go
well. Only, to atone for my sins, I'm bound to sit on the box.
That's so? eh? No, no! I'll be your Automedon. You shall see
how I'll get you along," he answered, not letting go the rein,
when Levin begged him to let the coachman drive. "No, I must
atone for my sins, and I'm very comfortable on the box." And he
Levin was a little afraid he would exhaust the horses, especially
the chestnut, whom he did not know how to hold in; but
unconsciously he fell under the influence of his gaiety and
listened to the songs he sang all the way on the box, or the
descriptions and representations he gave of driving in the
English fashion, four-in-hand; and it was in the very best of
spirits that after lunch they drove to the Gvozdyov marsh.
Vassenka drove the horses so smartly that they reached the marsh
too early, while it was still hot.
As they drew near this more important marsh, the chief aim of
their expedition, Levin could not help considering how he could
get rid of Vassenka and be free in his movements. Stepan
Arkadyevitch evidently had the same desire, and on his face Levin
saw the look of anxiety always present in a true sportsman when
beginning shooting, together with a certain good-humored slyness
peculiar to him.
"How shall we go? It's a splendid marsh, I see, and there are
hawks," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, pointing to two great birds
hovering over the reeds. "Where there are hawks, there is sure
to be game."
"Now, gentlemen," said Levin, pulling up his boots and examining
the lock of his gun with rather a gloomy expression, "do you see
those reeds?" He pointed to an oasis of blackish green in the
huge half-mown wet meadow that stretched along the right bank of
the river. "The marsh begins here, straight in front of us, do
you see--where it is greener? From here it runs to the right
where the horses are; there are breeding places there, and
grouse, and all round those reeds as far as that alder, and right
up to the mill. Over there, do you see, where the pools are?
That's the best place. There I once shot seventeen snipe.
We'll separate with the dogs and go in different directions, and
then meet over there at the mill."
"Well, which shall go to left and which to right?" asked Stepan
Arkadyevitch. "It's wider to the right; you two go that way and
I'll take the left," he said with apparent carelessness.
"Capital! we'll make the bigger bag! Yes, come along, come
along!" Vassenka exclaimed.
Levin could do nothing but agree, and they divided.
As soon as they entered the marsh, the two dogs began hunting
about together and made towards the green, slime-covered pool.
Levin knew Laska's method, wary and indefinite; he knew the place
too and expected a whole covey of snipe.
"Veslovsky, beside me, walk beside me!" he said in a faint voice
to his companion splashing in the water behind him. Levin could
not help feeling an interest in the direction his gun was
pointed, after that casual shot near the Kolpensky marsh.
"Oh, I won't get in your way, don't trouble about me."
But Levin could not help troubling, and recalled Kitty's words at
parting: "Mind you don't shoot one another." The dogs came
nearer and nearer, passed each other, each pursuing its own
scent. The expectation of snipe was so intense that to Levin the
squelching sound of his own heel, as he drew it up out of the
mire, seemed to be the call of a snipe, and he clutched and
pressed the lock of his gun.
"Bang! bang!" sounded almost in his ear. Vassenka had fired at a
flock of ducks which was hovering over the marsh and flying at
that moment towards the sportsmen, far out of range. Before
Levin had time to look round, there was the whir of one snipe,
another, a third, and some eight more rose one after another.
Stepan Arkadyevitch hit one at the very moment when it was
beginning its zigzag movements, and the snipe fell in a heap into
the mud. Oblonsky aimed deliberately at another, still flying
low in the reeds, and together with the report of the shot, that
snipe too fell, and it could be seen fluttering out where the
sedge had been cut, its unhurt wing showing white beneath.
Levin was not so lucky: he aimed at his first bird too low, and
missed; he aimed at it again, just as it was rising, but at that
instant another snipe flew up at his very feet, distracting him
so that he missed again.
While they were loading their guns, another snipe rose, and
Veslovsky, who had had time to load again, sent two charges of
small-shot into the water. Stepan Arkadyevitch picked up his
snipe, and with sparkling eyes looked at Levin.
"Well, now let us separate," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, and
limping on his left foot, holding his gun in readiness and
whistling to his dog, he walked off in one direction. Levin and
Veslovsky walked in the other.
It always happened with Levin that when his first shots were a
failure he got hot and out of temper, and shot badly the whole
day. So it was that day. The snipe showed themselves in
numbers. They kept flying up from just under the dogs, from
under the sportsmen's legs, and Levin might have retrieved his
ill luck. But the more he shot, the more he felt disgraced in
the eyes of Veslovsky, who kept popping away merrily and
indiscriminately, killing nothing, and not in the slightest
abashed by his ill success. Levin, in feverish haste, could not
restrain himself, got more and more out of temper, and ended by
shooting almost without a hope of hitting. Laska, indeed, seemed
to understand this. She began looking more languidly, and gazed
back at the sportsmen, as it were, with perplexity or reproach in
her eyes. Shots followed shots in rapid succession. The smoke
of the powder hung about the sportsmen, while in the great roomy
net of the game bag there were only three light little snipe.
And of these one had been killed by Veslovsky alone, and one by
both of them together. Meanwhile from the other side of the
marsh came the sound of Stepan Arkadyevitch's shots, not
frequent, but, as Levin fancied, well-directed, for almost after
each they heard "Krak, Krak, apporte!"
This excited Levin still more. The snipe were floating
continually in the air over the reeds. Their whirring wings
close to the earth, and their harsh cries high in the air, could
be heard on all sides; the snipe that had risen first and flown
up into the air, settled again before the sportsmen. Instead of
two hawks there were now dozens of them hovering with shrill
cries over the marsh.
After walking through the larger half of the marsh, Levin and
Veslovsky reached the place where the peasants' mowing-grass was
divided into long strips reaching to the reeds, marked off in one
place by the trampled grass, in another by a path mown through
it. Half of these strips had already been mown.
Though there was not so much hope of finding birds in the uncut
part as the cut part, Levin had promised Stepan Arkadyevitch to
meet him, and so he walked on with his companion through the cut
and uncut patches.
"Hi, sportsmen!" shouted one of a group of peasants, sitting on
an unharnessed cart; "come and have some lunch with us! Have a
drop of wine!"
Levin looked round.
"Come along, it's all right!" shouted a good-humored-looking
bearded peasant with a red face, showing his white teeth in a
grin, and holding up a greenish bottle that flashed in the
"Qu'est-ce qu'ils disent?" asked Veslovsky.
"They invite you to have some vodka. Most likely they've been
dividing the meadow into lots. I should have some," said Levin,
not without some guile, hoping Veslovsky would be tempted by the
vodka, and would go away to them.
"Why do they offer it?"
"Oh, they're merry-making. Really, you should join them. You
would be interested."
"Allons, c'est curieux."
"You go, you go, you'll find the way to the mill!" cried Levin,
and looking round he perceived with satisfaction that Veslovsky,
bent and stumbling with weariness, holding his gun out at arm's
length, was making his way out of the marsh towards the
"You come too!" the peasants shouted to Levin. "Never fear! You
taste our cake!"
Levin felt a strong inclination to drink a little vodka and to
eat some bread. He was exhausted, and felt it a great effort to
drag his staggering legs out of the mire, and for a minute he
hesitated. But Laska was setting. And immediately all his
weariness vanished, and he walked lightly through the swamp
towards the dog. A snipe flew up at his feet; he fired and
killed it. Laska still pointed.--"Fetch it!" Another bird flew
up close to the dog. Levin fired. But it was an unlucky day for
him; he missed it, and when he went to look for the one he had
shot, he could not find that either. He wandered all about the
reeds, but Laska did not believe he had shot it, and when he sent
her to find it, she pretended to hunt for it, but did not really.
And in the absence of Vassenka, on whom Levin threw the blame of
his failure, things went no better. There were plenty of snipe
still, but Levin made one miss after another.
The slanting rays of the sun were still hot; his clothes, soaked
through with perspiration, stuck to his body; his left boot full
of water weighed heavily on his leg and squeaked at every step;
the sweat rain in drops down his powder-grimed face, his mouth
was full of the bitter taste, his nose of the smell of powder and
stagnant water, his ears were ringing with the incessant whir of
the snipe; he could not touch the stock of his gun, it was so
hot; his heart beat with short, rapid throbs; his hands shook
with excitement, and his weary legs stumbled and staggered over
the hillocks and in the swamp, but still he walked on and still
he shot. At last, after a disgraceful miss, he flung his gun and
his hat on the ground.
"No, I must control myself," he said to himself. Picking up his
gun and his hat, he called Laska, and went out of the swamp.
When he got on to dry ground he sat down, pulled off his boot and
emptied it, then walked to the marsh, drank some stagnant-tasting
water, moistened his burning hot gun, and washed his face and
hands. Feeling refreshed, he went back to the spot where a snipe
had settled, firmly resolved to keep cool.
He tried to be calm, but it was the same again. His finger
pressed the cock before he had taken a good aim at the bird. It
got worse and worse.
He had only five birds in his game-bag when he walked out of the
marsh towards the alders where he was to rejoin Stepan
Before he caught sight of Stepan Arkadyevitch he saw his dog.
Krak darted out from behind the twisted root of an alder, black
all over with the stinking mire of the marsh, and with the air of
a conqueror sniffed at Laska. Behind Krak there came into view
in the shade of the alder tree the shapely figure of Stepan
Arkadyevitch. He came to meet him, red and perspiring, with
unbuttoned neckband, still limping in the same way.
"Well? You have been popping away!" he said, smiling
"How have you got on?" queried Levin. But there was no need to
ask, for he had already seen the full game bag.
"Oh, pretty fair."
He had fourteen birds.
"A splendid marsh! I've no doubt Veslovsky got in your way.
It's awkward too, shooting with one dog," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, to soften his triumph.
When Levin and Stepan Arkadyevitch reached the peasant's hut
where Levin always used to stay, Veslovsky was already there. He
was sitting in the middle of the hut, clinging with both hands to
the bench from which he was being pulled by a soldier, the
brother of the peasant's wife, who was helping him off with his
miry boots. Veslovsky was laughing his infectious, good-humored
"I've only just come. Ils ont ete charmants. Just fancy, they
gave me drink, fed me! Such bread, it was exquisite! Delicieux!
And the vodka, I never tasted any better. And they would not
take a penny for anything. And they kept saying: 'Excuse our
"What should they take anything for? They were entertaining you,
to be sure. Do you suppose they keep vodka for sale?" said the
soldier, succeeding at last in pulling the soaked boot off the
In spite of the dirtiness of the hut, which was all muddied by
their boots and the filthy dogs licking themselves clean, and the
smell of marsh mud and powder that filled the room, and the
absence of knives and forks, the party drank their tea and ate
their supper with a relish only known to sportsmen. Washed and
clean, they went into a hay-barn swept ready for them, where the
coachman had been making up beds for the gentlemen.
Though it was dusk, not one of them wanted to go to sleep.
After wavering among reminiscences and anecdotes of guns, of
dogs, and of former shooting parties, the conversation rested on
a topic that interested all of them. After Vassenka had several
times over expressed his appreciation of this delightful
sleeping place among the fragrant hay, this delightful broken
cart (he supposed it to be broken because the shafts had been
taken out), of the good nature of the peasants that had treated
him to vodka, of the dogs who lay at the feet of their respective
masters, Oblonsky began telling them of a delightful shooting
party at Malthus's, where he had stayed the previous summer.
Malthus was a well-known capitalist, who had made his money by
speculation in railway shares. Stepan Arkadyevitch described
what grouse moors this Malthus had bought in the Tver province,
and how they were preserved, and of the carriages and dogcarts in
which the shooting party had been driven, and the luncheon
pavilion that had been rigged up at the marsh.
"I don't understand you," said Levin, sitting up in the hay; "how
is it such people don't disgust you? I can understand a lunch
with Lafitte is all very pleasant, but don't you dislike just
that very sumptuousness? All these people, just like our spirit
monopolists in old days, get their money in a way that gains them
the contempt of everyone. They don't care for their contempt,
and then they use their dishonest gains to buy off the contempt
they have deserved."
"Perfectly true!" chimed in Vassenka Veslovsky. "Perfectly!
Oblonsky, of course, goes out of bonhomie, but other people say:
'Well, Oblonsky stays with them.'..."
"Not a bit of it." Levin could hear that Oblonsky was smiling as
he spoke. "I simply don't consider him more dishonest than any
other wealthy merchant or nobleman. They've all made their money
alike--by their work and their intelligence."
"Oh, by what work? Do you call it work to get hold of
concessions and speculate with them?"
"Of course it's work. Work in this sense, that if it were not
for him and others like him, there would have been no railways."
"But that's not work, like the work of a peasant or a learned
"Granted, but it's work in the sense that his activity produces a
result--the railways. But of course you think the railways
"No, that's another question; I am prepared to admit that
they're useful. But all profit that is out of proportion to the
labor expended is dishonest."
"But who is to define what is proportionate?"
"Making profit by dishonest means, by trickery," said Levin,
conscious that he could not draw a distinct line between honesty
and dishonesty. "Such as banking, for instance," he went on.
"It's an evil--the amassing of huge fortunes without labor, just
the same thing as with the spirit monopolies, it's only the form
that's changed. Le roi est mort, vive le roi. No sooner were
the spirit monopolies abolished than the railways came up, and
banking companies; that, too, is profit without work."
"Yes, that may all be very true and clever.... Lie down, Krak!"
Stepan Arkadyevitch called to his dog, who was scratching and
turning over all the hay. He was obviously convinced of the
correctness of his position, and so talked serenely and without
haste. "But you have not drawn the line between honest and
dishonest work. That I receive a bigger salary than my chief
clerk, though he knows more about the work than I do--that's
dishonest, I suppose?"
"I can't say."
"Well, but I can tell you: your receiving some five thousand,
let's say, for your work on the land, while our host, the peasant
here, however hard he works, can never get more than fifty
roubles, is just as dishonest as my earning more than my chief
clerk, and Malthus getting more than a station-master. No, quite
the contrary; I see that society takes up a sort of antagonistic
attitude to these people, which is utterly baseless, and I fancy
there's envy at the bottom of it...."
"No, that's unfair," said Veslovsky; "how could envy come in?
There is something not nice about that sort of business."
"You say," Levin went on, "that it's unjust for me to receive
five thousand, while the peasant has fifty; that's true. It is
unfair, and I feel it, but..."
"It really is. Why is it we spend our time riding, drinking,
shooting, doing nothing, while they are forever at work?" said
Vassenka Veslovsky, obviously for the first time in his life
reflecting on the question, and consequently considering it with
"Yes, you feel it, but you don't give him your property," said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, intentionally, as it seemed, provoking
There had arisen of late something like a secret antagonism
between the two brothers-in-law; as though, since they had
married sisters, a kind of rivalry had sprung up between them as
to which was ordering his life best, and now this hostility
showed itself in the conversation, as it began to take a personal
"I don't give it away, because no one demands that from me, and
if I wanted to, I could not give it away," answered Levin, "and
have no one to give it to."
"Give it to this peasant, he would not refuse it."
"Yes, but how am I to give it up? Am I to go to him and make a
deed of conveyance?"
"I don't know; but if you are convinced that you have no
"I'm not at all convinced. On the contrary, I feel I have no
right to give it up, that I have duties both to the land and to
"No, excuse me, but if you consider this inequality is unjust,
why is it you don't act accordingly?..."
"Well, I do act negatively on that idea, so far as not trying to
increase the difference of position existing between him and me."
"No, excuse me, that's a paradox."
"Yes, there's something of a sophistry about that," Veslovsky
agreed. "Ah! our host; so you're not asleep yet?" he said to the
peasant who came into the barn, opening the creaking door. "How
is it you're not asleep?"
"No, how's one to sleep! I thought our gentlemen would be
asleep, but I heard them chattering. I want to get a hook from
here. She won't bite?" he added, stepping cautiously with his
"And where are you going to sleep?"
"We are going out for the night with the beasts."
"Ah, what a night!" said Veslovsky, looking out at the edge of
the hut and the unharnessed wagonette that could be seen in the
faint light of the evening glow in the great frame of the open
doors. "But listen, there are women's voices singing, and, on my
word, not badly too. Who's that singing, my friend?"
"That's the maids from hard by here."
"Let's go, let's have a walk! We shan't go to sleep, you know.
Oblonsky, come along!"
"If one could only do both, lie here and go," answered Oblonsky,
stretching. "It's capital lying here."
"Well, I shall go by myself," said Veslovsky, getting up
eagerly, and putting on his shoes and stockings. "Good-bye,
gentlemen. If it's fun, I'll fetch you. You've treated me to
some good sport, and I won't forget you."
"He really is a capital fellow, isn't he?" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, when Veslovsky had gone out and the peasant had
closed the door after him.
"Yes, capital," answered Levin, still thinking of the subject of
their conversation just before. It seemed to him that he had
clearly expressed his thoughts and feelings to the best of his
capacity, and yet both of them, straightforward men and not
fools, had said with one voice that he was comforting himself
with sophistries. This disconcerted him.
"It's just this, my dear boy. One must do one of two things:
either admit that the existing order of society is just, and then
stick up for one's rights in it; or acknowledge that you are
enjoying unjust privileges, as I do, and then enjoy them and be
"No, if it were unjust, you could not enjoy these advantages and
be satisfied--at least I could not. The great thing for me is
to feel that I'm not to blame."
"What do you say, why not go after all?" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, evidently weary of the strain of thought. "We
shan't go to sleep, you know. Come, let's go!"
Levin did not answer. What they had said in the conversation,
that he acted justly only in a negative sense, absorbed his
thoughts. "Can it be that it's only possible to be just
negatively?" he was asking himself.
"How strong the smell of the fresh hay is, though," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, getting up. "There's not a chance of sleeping.
Vassenka has been getting up some fun there. Do you hear the
laughing and his voice? Hadn't we better go? Come along!"
"No, I'm not coming," answered Levin.
"Surely that's not a matter of principle too," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, smiling, as he felt about in the dark for his cap.
"It's not a matter of principle, but why should I go?"
"But do you know you are preparing trouble for yourself," said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, finding his cap and getting up.
"Do you suppose I don't see the line you've taken up with your
wife? I heard how it's a question of the greatest consequence,
whether or not you're to be away for a couple of days' shooting.
That's all very well as an idyllic episode, but for your whole
life that won't answer. A man must be independent; he has his
masculine interests. A man has to be manly," said Oblonsky,
opening the door.
"In what way? To go running after servant girls?" said Levin.
"Why not, if it amuses him? Ca ne tire pas a consequence. It
won't do my wife any harm, and it'll amuse me. The great thing
is to respect the sanctity of the home. There should be nothing
in the home. But don't tie your own hands."
"Perhaps so," said Levin dryly, and he turned on his side.
"Tomorrow, early, I want to go shooting, and I won't wake anyone,
and shall set off at daybreak."
"Messieurs, venes vite!" they heard the voice of Veslovsky coming
back. "Charmante! I've made such a discovery. Charmante! a
perfect Gretchen, and I've already made friends with her.
Really, exceedingly pretty," he declared in a tone of approval,
as though she had been made pretty entirely on his account, and
he was expressing his satisfaction with the entertainment that
had been provided for him.
Levin pretended to be asleep, while Oblonsky, putting on his
slippers, and lighting a cigar, walked out of the barn, and soon
their voices were lost.
For a long while Levin could not get to sleep. He heard the
horses munching hay, then he heard the peasant and his elder boy
getting ready for the night, and going off for the night watch
with the beasts, then he heard the soldier arranging his bed on
the other side of the barn, with his nephew, the younger son of
their peasant host. He heard the boy in his shrill little voice
telling his uncle what he thought about the dogs, who seemed to
him huge and terrible creatures, and asking what the dogs were
going to hunt next day, and the soldier in a husky, sleepy voice,
telling him the sportsmen were going in the morning to the marsh,
and would shoot with their guns; and then, to check the boy's
questions, he said, "Go to sleep, Vaska; go to sleep, or you'll
catch it," and soon after he began snoring himself, and
everything was still. He could only hear the snort of the
horses, and the guttural cry of a snipe.
"Is it really only negative?" he repeated to himself. "Well,
what of it? It's not my fault." And he began thinking about the
"Tomorrow I'll go out early, and I'll make a point of keeping
cool. There are lots of snipe; and there are grouse too. When
I come back there'll be the note from Kitty. Yes, Stiva may be
right, I'm not manly with her, I'm tied to her apron-strings....
Well, it can't be helped! Negative again...."
Half asleep, he heard the laughter and mirthful talk of Veslovsky
and Stepan Arkadyevitch. For an instant he opened his eyes: the
moon was up, and in the open doorway, brightly lighted up by the
moonlight, they were standing talking. Stepan Arkadyevitch was
saying something of the freshness of one girl, comparing her to a
freshly peeled nut, and Veslovsky with his infectious laugh was
repeating some words, probably said to him by a peasant: "Ah, you
do your best to get round her!" Levin, half asleep, said:
"Gentlemen, tomorrow before daylight!" and fell asleep.
Waking up at earliest dawn, Levin tried to wake his companions.
Vassenka, lying on his stomach, with one leg in a stocking thrust
out, was sleeping so soundly that he could elicit no response.
Oblonsky, half asleep, declined to get up so early. Even Laska,
who was asleep, curled up in the hay, got up unwillingly, and
lazily stretched out and straightened her hind legs one after the
other. Getting on his boots and stockings, taking his gun, and
carefully opening the creaking door of the barn, Levin went out
into the road. The coachmen were sleeping in their carriages,
the horses were dozing. Only one was lazily eating oats, dipping
its nose into the manger. It was still gray out-of-doors.
"Why are you up so early, my dear?" the old woman, their hostess,
said, coming out of the hut and addressing him affectionately as
an old friend.
"Going shooting, granny. Do I go this way to the marsh?"
"Straight out at the back; by our threshing floor, my dear, and
hemp patches; there's a little footpath." Stepping carefully
with her sunburnt, bare feet, the old woman conducted Levin, and
moved back the fence for him by the threshing floor.
"Straight on and you'll come to the marsh. Our lads drove the
cattle there yesterday evening."
Laska ran eagerly forward along the little path. Levin followed
her with a light, rapid step, continually looking at the sky. He
hoped the sun would not be up before he reached the marsh. But
the sun did not delay. The moon, which had been bright when he
went out, by now shone only like a crescent of quicksilver. The
pink flush of dawn, which one could not help seeing before, now
had to be sought to be discerned at all. What were before
undefined, vague blurs in the distant countryside could now be
distinctly seen. They were sheaves of rye. The dew, not visible
till the sun was up, wetted Levin's legs and his blouse above his
belt in the high growing, fragrant hemp patch, from which the
pollen had already fallen out. In the transparent stillness of
morning the smallest sounds were audible. A bee flew by Levin's
ear with the whizzing sound of a bullet. He looked carefully,
and saw a second and a third. They were all flying from the
beehives behind the hedge, and they disappeared over the hemp
patch in the direction of the marsh. The path led straight to
the marsh. The marsh could be recognized by the mist which rose
from it, thicker in one place and thinner in another, so that the
reeds and willow bushes swayed like islands in this mist. At the
edge of the marsh and the road, peasant boys and men, who had
been herding for the night, were lying, and in the dawn all were
asleep under their coats. Not far from them were three hobbled
horses. One of them clanked a chain. Laska walked beside her
master, pressing a little forward and looking round. Passing the
sleeping peasants and reaching the first reeds, Levin examined
his pistols and let his dog off. One of the horses, a sleek,
dark-brown three-year-old, seeing the dog, started away, switched
its tail and snorted. The other horses too were frightened, and
splashing through the water with their hobbled legs, and drawing
their hoofs out of the thick mud with a squelching sound, they
bounded out of the marsh. Laska stopped, looking ironically at
the horses and inquiringly at Levin. Levin patted Laska, and
whistled as a sign that she might begin.
Laska ran joyfully and anxiously through the slush that swayed
Running into the marsh among the familiar scents of roots, marsh
plants, and slime, and the extraneous smell of horse dung, Laska
detected at once a smell that pervaded the whole marsh, the scent
of that strong-smelling bird that always excited her more than
any other. Here and there among the moss and marsh plants this
scent was very strong, but it was impossible to determine in
which direction it grew stronger or fainter. To find the
direction, she had to go farther away from the wind. Not feeling
the motion of her legs, Laska bounded with a stiff gallop, so
that at each bound she could stop short, to the right, away from
the wind that blew from the east before sunrise, and turned
facing the wind. Sniffing in the air with dilated nostrils, she
felt at once that not their tracks only but they themselves were
here before her, and not one, but many. Laska slackened her
speed. They were here, but where precisely she could not yet
determine. To find the very spot, she began to make a circle,
when suddenly her master's voice drew her off. "Laska! here?" he
asked, pointing her to a different direction. She stopped,
asking him if she had better not go on doing as she had begun.
But he repeated his command in an angry voice, pointing to a spot
covered with water, where there could not be anything. She
obeyed him, pretending she was looking, so as to please him, went
round it, and went back to her former position, and was at once
aware of the scent again. Now when he was not hindering her, she
knew what to do, and without looking at what was under her feet,
and to her vexation stumbling over a high stump into the water,
but righting herself with her strong, supple legs, she began
making the circle which was to make all clear to her. The scent
of them reached her, stronger and stronger, and more and more
defined, and all at once it became perfectly clear to her that
one of them was here, behind this tuft of reeds, five paces in
front of her; she stopped, and her whole body was still and
rigid. On her short legs she could see nothing in front of her,
but by the scent she knew it was sitting not more than five paces
off. She stood still, feeling more and more conscious of it, and
enjoying it in anticipation. Her tail was stretched straight and
tense, and only wagging at the extreme end. Her mouth was
slightly open, her ears raised. One ear had been turned wrong
side out as she ran up, and she breathed heavily but warily, and
still more warily looked round, but more with her eyes than her
head, to her master. He was coming along with the face she knew
so well, though the eyes were always terrible to her. He
stumbled over the stump as he came, and moved, as she thought,
extraordinarily slowly. She thought he came slowly, but he was
Noticing Laska's special attitude as she crouched on the ground,
as it were, scratching big prints with her hind paws, and with
her mouth slightly open, Levin knew she was pointing at grouse,
and with an inward prayer for luck, especially with the first
bird, he ran up to her. Coming quite close up to her, he could
from his height look beyond her, and he saw with his eyes what
she was seeing with her nose. In a space between two little
thickets, to a couple of yards' distance, he could see a
grouse. Turning its head, it was listening. Then lightly
preening and folding its wings, it disappeared round a corner
with a clumsy wag of its tail.
"Fetch it, fetch it!" shouted Levin, giving Laska a shove from
"But I can't go," thought Laska. "Where am I to go? From here I
feel them, but if I move forward I shall know nothing of where
they are or who they are." But then he shoved her with his knee,
and in an excited whisper said, "Fetch it, Laska."
"Well, if that's what he wishes, I'll do it, but I can't answer
for myself now," she thought, and darted forward as fast as her
legs would carry her between the thick bushes. She scented
nothing now; she could only see and hear, without understanding
Ten paces from her former place a grouse rose with a guttural cry
and the peculiar round sound of its wings. And immediately after
the shot it splashed heavily with its white breast on the wet
mire. Another bird did not linger, but rose behind Levin without
the dog. When Levin turned towards it, it was already some way
off. But his shot caught it. Flying twenty paces further, the
second grouse rose upwards, and whirling round like a ball,
dropped heavily on a dry place.
"Come, this is going to be some good!" thought Levin, packing the
warm and fat grouse into his game bag. "Eh, Laska, will it be
When Levin, after loading his gun, moved on, the sun had fully
risen, though unseen behind the storm-clouds. The moon had lost
all of its luster, and was like a white cloud in the sky. Not a
single star could be seen. The sedge, silvery with dew before,
now shone like gold. The stagnant pools were all like amber.
The blue of the grass had changed to yellow-green. The marsh
birds twittered and swarmed about the brook and upon the bushes
that glittered with dew and cast long shadows. A hawk woke up
and settled on a haycock, turning its head from side to side and
looking discontentedly at the marsh. Crows were flying about the
field, and a bare-legged boy was driving the horses to an old
man, who had got up from under his long coat and was combing his
hair. The smoke from the gun was white as milk over the green of
One of the boys ran up to Levin.
"Uncle, there were ducks here yesterday!" he shouted to him, and
he walked a little way off behind him.
And Levin was doubly pleased, in sight of the boy, who expressed
his approval, at killing three snipe, one after another, straight
The sportsman's saying, that if the first beast or the first bird
is not missed, the day will be lucky, turned out correct.
At ten o'clock Levin, weary, hungry, and happy after a tramp of
twenty miles, returned to his night's lodging with nineteen head
of fine game and one duck, which he tied to his belt, as it would
not go into the game bag. His companions had long been awake,
and had had time to get hungry and have breakfast.
"Wait a bit, wait a bit, I know there are nineteen," said Levin,
counting a second time over the grouse and snipe, that looked so
much less important now, bent and dry and bloodstained, with
heads crooked aside, than they did when they were flying.
The number was verified, and Stepan Arkadyevitch's envy pleased
Levin. He was pleased too on returning to find the man sent by
Kitty with a note was already there.
"I am perfectly well and happy. If you were uneasy about me, you
can feel easier than ever. I've a new bodyguard, Marya
Vlasyevna,"--this was the midwife, a new and important personage
in Levin's domestic life. "She has come to have a look at me.
She found me perfectly well, and we have kept her till you are
back. All are happy and well, and please, don't be in a hurry to
come back, but, if the sport is good, stay another day."
These two pleasures, his lucky shooting and the letter from his
wife, were so great that two slightly disagreeable incidents
passed lightly over Levin. One was that the chestnut trace
horse, who had been unmistakably overworked on the previous day,
was off his feed and out of sorts. The coachman said he was
"Overdriven yesterday, Konstantin Dmitrievitch. Yes, indeed!
driven ten miles with no sense!"
The other unpleasant incident, which for the first minute
destroyed his good humor, though later he laughed at it a great
deal, was to find that of all the provisions Kitty had provided
in such abundance that one would have thought there was enough
for a week, nothing was left. On his way back, tired and hungry
from shooting, Levin had so distinct a vision of meat-pies that
as he approached the hut he seemed to smell and taste them, as
Laska had smelt the game, and he immediately told Philip to give
him some. It appeared that there were no pies left, nor even any
"Well, this fellow's appetite!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
laughing and pointing at Vassenka Veslovsky. "I never suffer
from loss of appetite, but he's really marvelous!..."
"Well, it can't be helped," said Levin, looking gloomily at
Veslovsky. "Well, Philip, give me some beef, then."
"The beef's been eaten, and the bones given to the dogs,"
Levin was so hurt that he said, in a tone of vexation, "You might
have left me something!" and he felt ready to cry.
"Then put away the game," he said in a shaking voice to Philip,
trying not to look at Vassenka, "and cover them with some
nettles. And you might at least ask for some milk for me."
But when he had drunk some milk, he felt ashamed immediately at
having shown his annoyance to a stranger, and he began to laugh
at his hungry mortification.
In the evening they went shooting again, and Veslovsky had
several successful shots, and in the night they drove home.
Their homeward journey was as lively as their drive out had been.
Veslovsky sang songs and related with enjoyment his adventures
with the peasants, who had regaled him with vodka, and said to
him, "Excuse our homely ways," and his night's adventures with
kiss-in-the-ring and the servant-girl and the peasant, who had
asked him was he married, and on learning that he was not, said
to him, "Well, mind you don't run after other men's wives--you'd
better get one of your own." These words had particularly amused
"Altogether, I've enjoyed our outing awfully. And you, Levin?"
"I have, very much," Levin said quite sincerely. It was
particularly delightful to him to have got rid of the hostility
he had been feeling towards Vassenka Veslovsky at home, and to
feel instead the most friendly disposition to him.
Next day at ten o'clock Levin, who had already gone his rounds,
knocked at the room where Vassenka had been put for the night.
"Entrez!" Veslovsky called to him. "Excuse me, I've only just
finished my ablutions," he said, smiling, standing before him in
his underclothes only.
"Don't mind me, please." Levin sat down in the window. "Have
you slept well?"
"Like the dead. What sort of day is it for shooting?"
"What will you take, tea or coffee?"
"Neither. I'll wait till lunch. I'm really ashamed. I suppose
the ladies are down? A walk now would be capital. You show me
After walking about the garden, visiting the stable, and even
doing some gymnastic exercises together on the parallel bars,
Levin returned to the house with his guest, and went with him
into the drawing room.
"We had splendid shooting, and so many delightful experiences!"
said Veslovsky, going up to Kitty, who was sitting at the
samovar. "What a pity ladies are cut off from these delights!"
"Well, I suppose he must say something to the lady of the house,"
Levin said to himself. Again he fancied something in the smile,
in the all-conquering air with which their guest addressed
The princess, sitting on the other side of the table with Marya
Vlasyevna and Stepan Arkadyevitch, called Levin to her side, and
began to talk to him about moving to Moscow for Kitty's
confinement, and getting ready rooms for them. Just as Levin
had disliked all the trivial preparations for his wedding, as
derogatory to the grandeur of the event, now he felt still more
offensive the preparations for the approaching birth, the date of
which they reckoned, it seemed, on their fingers. He tried to
turn a deaf ear to these discussions of the best patterns of long
clothes for the coming baby; tried to turn away and avoid seeing
the mysterious, endless strips of knitting, the triangles of
linen, and so on, to which Dolly attached special importance.
The birth of a son (he was certain it would be a son) which was
promised him, but which he still could not believe in--so
marvelous it seemed--presented itself to his mind, on one hand,
as a happiness so immense, and therefore so incredible; on the
other, as an event so mysterious, that this assumption of a
definite knowledge of what would be, and consequent preparation
for it, as for something ordinary that did happen to people,
jarred on him as confusing and humiliating.
But the princess did not understand his feelings, and put down
his reluctance to think and talk about it to carelessness and
indifference, and so she gave him no peace. She had commissioned
Stepan Arkadyevitch to look at a fiat, and now she called Levin
"I know nothing about it, princess. Do as you think fit," he
"You must decide when you will move."
"I really don't know. I know millions of children are born away
from Moscow, and doctors...why..."
"But if so..."
"Oh, no, as Kitty wishes."
"We can't talk to Kitty about it! Do you want me to frighten
her? Why, this spring Natalia Golitzina died from having an
"I will do just what you say," he said gloomily.
The princess began talking to him, but he did not hear her.
Though the conversation with the princess had indeed jarred upon
him, he was gloomy, not on account of that conversation, but from
what he saw at the samovar.
"No, it's impossible," he thought, glancing now and then at
Vassenka bending over Kitty, telling her something with his
charming smile, and at her, flushed and disturbed.
There was something not nice in Vassenka's attitude, in his eyes,
in his smile. Levin even saw something not nice in Kitty's
attitude and look. And again the light died away in his eyes.
Again, as before, all of a sudden, without the slightest
transition, he felt cast down from a pinnacle of happiness,
peace, and dignity, into an abyss of despair, rage, and
humiliation. Again everything and everyone had become hateful to
"You do just as you think best, princess," he said again, looking
"Heavy is the cap of Monomach," Stepan Arkadyevitch said
playfully, hinting, evidently, not simply at the princess's
conversation, but at the cause of Levin's agitation, which he had
"How late you are today, Dolly!"
Everyone got up to greet Darya Alexandrovna. Vassenka only rose
for an instant, and with the lack of courtesy to ladies
characteristic of the modern young man, he scarcely bowed, and
resumed his conversation again, laughing at something.
"I've been worried about Masha. She did not sleep well, and is
dreadfully tiresome today," said Dolly.
The conversation Vassenka had started with Kitty was running on
the same lines as on the previous evening, discussing Anna, and
whether love is to be put higher than worldly considerations.
Kitty disliked the conversation, and she was disturbed both by
the subject and the tone in which it was conducted, and also by
the knowledge of the effect it would have on her husband. But
she was too simple and innocent to know how to cut short this
conversation, or even to conceal the superficial pleasure
afforded her by the young man's very obvious admiration. She
wanted to stop it, but she did not know what to do. Whatever she
did she knew would be observed by her husband, and the worst
interpretation put on it. And, in fact, when she asked Dolly
what was wrong with Masha, and Vassenka, waiting till this
uninteresting conversation was over, began to gaze indifferently
at Dolly, the question struck Levin as an unnatural and
disgusting piece of hypocrisy.
"What do you say, shall we go and look for mushrooms today?" said
"By all means, please, and I shall come too," said Kitty, and she
blushed. She wanted from politeness to ask Vassenka whether he
would come, and she did not ask him. "Where are you going,
Kostya?" she asked her husband with a guilty face, as he passed
by her with a resolute step. This guilty air confirmed all his
"The mechanician came when I was away; I haven't seen him yet,"
he said, not looking at her.
He went downstairs, but before he had time to leave his study he
heard his wife's familiar footsteps running with reckless speed
"What do you want?" he said to her shortly. "We are busy."
"I beg your pardon," she said to the German mechanician; "I want
a few words with my husband."
The German would have left the room, but Levin said to him:
"Don't disturb yourself."
"The train is at three?" queried the German. "I mustn't be
Levin did not answer him, but walked out himself with his wife.
"Well, what have you to say to me?" he said to her in French.
He did not look her in the face, and did not care to see that she
in her condition was trembling all over, and had a piteous,
"I...I want to say that we can't go on like this; that this
is misery..." she said.
"The servants are here at the sideboard," he said angrily; "don't
make a scene."
"Well, let's go in here!"
They were standing in the passage. Kitty would have gone into
the next room, but there the English governess was giving Tanya a
"Well, come into the garden."
In the garden they came upon a peasant weeding the path. And no
longer considering that the peasant could see her tear-stained
and his agitated face, that they looked like people fleeing from
some disaster, they went on with rapid steps, feeling that they
must speak out and clear up misunderstandings, must be alone
together, and so get rid of the misery they were both feeling.
"We can't go on like this! It's misery! I am wretched; you are
wretched. What for?" she said, when they had at last reached a
solitary garden seat at a turn in the lime tree avenue.
"But tell me one thing: was there in his tone anything unseemly,
not nice, humiliatingly horrible?" he said, standing before her
again in the same position with his clenched fists on his chest,
as he had stood before her that night.
"Yes," she said in a shaking voice; "but, Kostya, surely you see
I'm not to blame? All the morning I've been trying to take a
tone...but such people ...Why did he come? How happy we were!"
she said, breathless with the sobs that shook her.
Although nothing had been pursuing them, and there was nothing to
run away from, and they could not possibly have found anything
very delightful on that garden seat, the gardener saw with
astonishment that they passed him on their way home with
comforted and radiant faces.
After escorting his wife upstairs, Levin went to Dolly's part of
the house. Darya Alexandrovna, for her part, was in great
distress too that day. She was walking about the room, talking
angrily to a little girl, who stood in the corner roaring.
"And you shall stand all day in the corner, and have your dinner
all alone, and not see one of your dolls, and I won't make you a
new frock," she said, not knowing how to punish her.
"Oh, she is a disgusting child!" she turned to Levin. "Where
does she get such wicked propensities?"
"Why, what has she done?" Levin said without much interest, for
he had wanted to ask her advice, and so was annoyed that he had
come at an unlucky moment.
"Grisha and she went into the raspberries, and there...I can't
tell you really what she did. It's a thousand pities Miss
Elliot's not with us. This one sees to nothing--she's a
machine.... Figurez-vous que la petite?..."
And Darya Alexandrovna described Masha's crime.
"That proves nothing; it's not a question of evil propensities at
all, it's simply mischief," Levin assured her.
"But you are upset about something? What have you come for?"
asked Dolly. "What's going on there?"
And in the tone of her question Levin heard that it would be easy
for him to say what he had meant to say.
"I've not been in there, I've been alone in the garden with
Kitty. We've had a quarrel for the second time since...Stiva
Dolly looked at him with her shrewd, comprehending eyes.
"Come, tell me, honor bright, has there been...not in Kitty, but
in that gentleman's behavior, a tone which might be unpleasant--
not unpleasant, but horrible, offensive to a husband?"
"You mean, how shall I say.... Stay, stay in the corner!" she
said to Masha, who, detecting a faint smile in her mother's face,
had been turning round. "The opinion of the world would be that
he is behaving as young men do behave. Il fait la cour a une
jeune et jolie femme, and a husband who's a man of the world
should only be flattered by it."
"Yes, yes," said Levin gloomily; "but you noticed it?"
"Not only I, but Stiva noticed it. Just after breakfast he said
to me in so many words, Je crois que Veslovsky fait un petit brin
de cour a Kitty."
"Well, that's all right then; now I'm satisfied. I'll send him
away," said Levin.
"What do you mean! Are you crazy?" Dolly cried in horror;
"nonsense, Kostya, only think!" she said, laughing. "You can go
now to Fanny," she said to Masha. "No, if you wish it, I'll
speak to Stiva. He'll take him away. He can say you're
expecting visitors. Altogether he doesn't fit into the house."
"No, no, I'll do it myself."
"But you'll quarrel with him?"
"Not a bit. I shall so enjoy it," Levin said, his eyes flashing
with real enjoyment. "Come, forgive her, Dolly, she won't do it
again," he said of the little sinner, who had not gone to Fanny,
but was standing irresolutely before her mother, waiting and
looking up from under her brows to catch her mother's eye.
The mother glanced at her. The child broke into sobs, hid her
face on her mother's lap, and Dolly laid her thin, tender hand on