Part 5 out of 22
unlike that in which he had meant to talk. Involuntarily he
talked to her in his habitual tone of jeering at anyone who
should say what he was saying. And in that tone it was
impossible to say what needed to be said to her.
That which for Vronsky had been almost a whole year the one
absorbing desire of his life, replacing all his old desires; that
which for Anna had been an impossible, terrible, and even for
that reason more entrancing dream of bliss, that desire had been
fulfilled. He stood before her, pale, his lower jaw quivering,
and besought her to be calm, not knowing how or why.
"Anna! Anna!" he said with a choking voice, "Anna, for pity's
But the louder he spoke, the lower she dropped her once proud and
gay, now shame-stricken head, and she bowed down and sank from
the sofa where she was sitting, down on the floor, at his feet;
she would have fallen on the carpet if he had not held her.
"My God! Forgive me!" she said, sobbing, pressing his hands to
She felt so sinful, so guilty, that nothing was left her but to
humiliate herself and beg forgiveness; and as now there was no
one in her life but him, to him she addressed her prayer for
forgiveness. Looking at him, she had a physical sense of her
humiliation, and she could say nothing more. He felt what a
murderer must feel, when he sees the body he has robbed of life.
That body, robbed by him of life, was their love, the first stage
of their love. There was something awful and revolting in the
memory of what had been bought at this fearful price of shame.
Shame at their spiritual nakedness crushed her and infected him.
But in spite of all the murderer's horror before the body of his
victim, he must hack it to pieces, hide the body, must use what
he has gained by his murder.
And with fury, as it were with passion, the murderer falls on the
body, and drags it and hacks at it; so he covered her face and
shoulders with kisses. She held his hand, and did not stir.
"Yes, these kisses--that is what has been bought by this shame.
Yes, and one hand, which will always be mine--the hand of my
accomplice." She lifted up that hand and kissed it. He sank on
his knees and tried to see her face; but she hid it, and said
nothing. At last, as though making an effort over herself, she
got up and pushed him away. Her face was still as beautiful, but
it was only the more pitiful for that.
"All is over," she said; "In have nothing but you. Remember
"I can never forget what is my whole life. For one instant of
"Happiness!" she said with horror and loathing and her horror
unconsciously infected him. "For pity's sake, not a word, not a
She rose quickly and moved away from him.
"Not a word more," she repeated, and with a look of chill
despair, incomprehensible to him, she parted from him. She felt
that at that moment she could not put into words the sense of
shame, of rapture, and of horror at this stepping into a new
life, and she did not want to speak of it, to vulgarize this
feeling by inappropriate words. But later too, and the next day
and the third day, she still found no words in which she could
express the complexity of her feelings; indeed, she could not
even find thoughts in which she could clearly think out all that
was in her soul.
She said to herself: "No, just now I can't think of it, later on,
when I am calmer." But this calm for thought never came; every
time the thought rose of what she had done and what would happen
to her, and what she ought to do, a horror came over her and she
drove those thoughts away.
"Later, later," she said--"when I am calmer."
But in dreams, when she had no control over her thoughts, her
position presented itself to her in all its hideous nakedness.
Once dream haunted her almost every night. She dreamed that both
were her husbands at once, that both were lavishing caresses on
her. Alexey Alexandrovitch was weeping, kissing her hands, and
saying, "How happy we are now!" And Alexey Vronsky was there
too, and he too was her husband. And she was marveling that it
had once seemed impossible to her, was explaining to them,
laughing, that this was ever so much simpler, and that now both
of them were happy and contented. But this dream weighed on her
like a nightmare, and she awoke from it in terror.
In the early days after his return from Moscow, whenever Levin
shuddered and grew red, remembering the disgrace of his
rejection, he said to himself: "This was just how I used to
shudder and blush, thinking myself utterly lost, when I was
plucked in physics and did not get my remove; and how I thought
myself utterly ruined after I had mismanaged that affair of my
sister's that was entrusted to me. And yet, now that years have
passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so
much. It will be the same thing too with this trouble. Time
will go by and I shall not mind about this either."
But three months had passed and he had not left off minding about
it; and it was as painful for him to think of it as it had been
those first days. He could not be at peace because after
dreaming so long of family life, and feeling himself so ripe for
it, he was still not married, and was further than ever from
marriage. He was painfully conscious himself, as were all about
him, that at his years it is not well for man to be alone. He
remembered how before starting for Moscow he had once said to his
cowman Nikolay, a simple-hearted peasant, whom he liked talking
to: "Well, Nikolay! I mean to get married," and how Nikolay had
promptly answered, as of a matter on which there could be no
possible doubt: "And high time too, Konstantin Demitrievitch."
But marriage had now become further off than ever. The place was
taken, and whenever he tried to imagine any of the girls he knew
in that place, he felt that it was utterly impossible. Moreover,
the recollection of the rejection and the part he had played in
the affair tortured him with shame. However often he told
himself that he was in no wise to blame in it, that recollection,
like other humiliating reminiscences of a similar kind, made him
twinge and blush. There had been in his past, as in every man's,
actions, recognized by him as bad, for which his conscience ought
to have tormented him; but the memory of these evil actions was
far from causing him so much suffering as those trivial but
humiliating reminiscences. These wounds never healed. And with
these memories was now ranged his rejection and the pitiful
position in which he must have appeared to others that evening.
But time and work did their part. Bitter memories were more and
more covered up by the incidents--paltry in his eyes, but really
important--of his country life. Every week he thought less
often of Kitty. He was impatiently looking forward to the news
that she was married, or just going to be married, hoping that
such news would, like having a tooth out, completely cure him.
Meanwhile spring came on, beautiful and kindly, without the
delays and treacheries of spring,--one of those rare springs in
which plants, beasts, and man rejoice alike. This lovely spring
roused Levin still more, and strengthened him in his resolution
of renouncing all his past and building up his lonely life firmly
and independently. Though many of the plans with which he had
returned to the country had not been carried out, still his most
important resolution--that of purity--had been kept by him. He
was free from that shame, which had usually harassed him after a
fall; and he could look everyone straight in the face. In
February he had received a letter from Marya Nikolaevna telling
him that his brother Nikolay's health was getting worse, but that
he would not take advice, and in consequence of this letter Levin
went to Moscow to his brother's and succeeded in persuading him
to see a doctor and to go to a watering-place abroad. He
succeeded so well in persuading his brother, and in lending him
money for the journey without irritating him, that he was
satisfied with himself in that matter. In addition to his
farming, which called for special attention in spring, and in
addition to reading, Levin had begun that winter a work on
agriculture, the plan of which turned on taking into account the
character of the laborer on the land as one of the unalterable
data of the question, like the climate and the soil, and
consequently deducing all the principles of scientific culture,
not simply from the data of soil and climate, but from the data
of soil, climate, and a certain unalterable character of the
laborer. Thus, in spite of his solitude, or in consequence of
his solitude, his life was exceedingly full. Only rarely he
suffered from an unsatisfied desire to communicate his stray
ideas to someone besides Agafea Mihalovna. With her indeed he
not infrequently fell into discussion upon physics, the theory of
agriculture, and especially philosophy; philosophy was Agafea
Mihalovna's favorite subject.
Spring was slow in unfolding. For the last few weeks it had been
steadily fine frosty weather. In the daytime it thawed in the
sun, but at night there were even seven degrees of frost. There
was such a frozen surface on the snow that they drove the wagons
anywhere off the roads. Easter came in the snow. Then all of a
sudden, on Easter Monday, a warm wind sprang up, storm clouds
swooped down, and for three days and three nights the warm,
driving rain fell in streams. On Thursday the wind dropped, and
a thick gray fog brooded over the land as though hiding the
mysteries of the transformations that were being wrought in
nature. Behind the fog there was the flowing of water, the
cracking and floating of ice, the swift rush of turbid, foaming
torrents; and on the following Monday, in the evening, the fog
parted, the storm clouds split up into little curling crests of
cloud, the sky cleared, and the real spring had come. In the
morning the sun rose brilliant and quickly wore away the thin
layer of ice that covered the water, and all the warm air was
quivering with the steam that rose up from the quickened earth.
The old grass looked greener, and the young grass thrust up its
tiny blades; the buds of the guelder-rose and of the currant and
the sticky birch-buds were swollen with sap, and an exploring bee
was humming about the golden blossoms that studded the willow.
Larks trilled unseen above the velvety green fields and the
ice-covered stubble-land; peewits wailed over the low lands and
marshes flooded by the pools; cranes and wild geese flew high
across the sky uttering their spring calls. The cattle, bald in
patches where the new hair had not grown yet, lowed in the
pastures; the bowlegged lambs frisked round their bleating
mothers. Nimble children ran about the drying paths, covered
with the prints of bare feet. There was a merry chatter of
peasant women over their linen at the pond, and the ring of axes
in the yard, where the peasants were repairing ploughs and
harrows. The real spring had come.
Levin put on his big boots, and, for the first time, a cloth
jacket, instead of his fur cloak, and went out to look after his
farm, stepping over streams of water that flashed in the sunshine
and dazzled his eyes, and treading one minute on ice and the next
into sticky mud.
Spring is the time of plans and projects. And, as he came out
into the farmyard, Levin, like a tree in spring that knows not
what form will be taken by the young shoots and twigs imprisoned
in its swelling buds, hardly knew what undertakings he was going
to begin upon now in the farm work that was so dear to him. But
he felt that he was full of the most splendid plans and projects.
First of all he went to the cattle. The cows had been let out
into their paddock, and their smooth sides were already shining
with their new, sleek, spring coats; they basked in the sunshine
and lowed to go to the meadow. Levin gazed admiringly at the
cows he knew so intimately to the minutest detail of their
condition, and gave orders for them to be driven out into the
meadow, and the calves to be let into the paddock. The herdsman
ran gaily to get ready for the meadow. The cowherd girls,
picking up their petticoats, ran splashing through the mud with
bare legs, still white, not yet brown from the sun, waving brush
wood in their hands, chasing the calves that frolicked in the
mirth of spring.
After admiring the young ones of that year, who were particularly
fine--the early calves were the size of a peasant's cow, and
Pava's daughter, at three months old, was a big as a yearling--
Levin gave orders for a trough to be brought out and for them to
be fed in the paddock. But it appeared that as the paddock had
not been used during the winter, the hurdles made in the autumn
for it were broken. He sent for the carpenter, who, according to
his orders, ought to have been at work at the thrashing machine.
But it appeared that the carpenter was repairing the harrows,
which ought to have been repaired before Lent. This was very
annoying to Levin. It was annoying to come upon that everlasting
slovenliness in the farm work against which he had been striving
with all his might for so many years. The hurdles, as he
ascertained, being not wanted in winter, had been carried to
the cart-horses' stable; and there broken, as they were of light
construction, only meant for folding calves. Moreover, it was
apparent also that the harrows and all the agricultural
implements, which he had directed to be looked over and repaired
in the winter, for which very purpose he had hired three
carpenters, had not been put into repair, and the harrows were
being repaired when they ought to have been harrowing the field.
Levin sent for his bailiff, but immediately went off himself to
look for him. The bailiff, beaming all over, like everyone that
day, in a sheepskin bordered with astrachan, came out of the
barn, twisting a bit of straw in his hands.
"Why isn't the carpenter at the thrashing machine?"
"Oh, I meant to tell you yesterday, the harrows want repairing.
Here it's time they got to work in the fields."
"But what were they doing in the winter, then?"
"But what did you want the carpenter for?"
"Where are the hurdles for the calves' paddock?"
"I ordered them to be got ready. What would you have with those
peasants!" said the bailiff, with a wave of his hand.
"It's not those peasants but this bailiff!" said Levin, getting
angry. "Why, what do I keep you for?" he cried. But, bethinking
himself that this would not help matters, he stopped short in the
middle of a sentence, and merely sighed. "Well, what do you say?
Can sowing begin?" he asked, after a pause.
"Behind Turkin tomorrow or the next day they might begin."
"And the clover?"
"I've sent Vassily and Mishka; they're sowing. Only I don't know
if they'll manage to get through; it's so slushy."
"How many acres?"
"Why not sow all?" cried Levin.
That they were only sowing the clover on fifteen acres, not on
all the forty-five, was still more annoying to him. Clover, as
he knew, both from books and from his own experience, never did
well except when it was sown as early as possible, almost in the
snow. And yet Levin could never get this done.
"There's no one to send. What would you have with such a set of
peasants? Three haven't turned up. And there's Semyon..."
"Well, you should have taken some men from the thatching."
"And so I have, as it is."
"Where are the peasants, then?"
"Five are making compote" (which meant compost), "four are
shifting the oats for fear of a touch of mildew, Konstantin
Levin knew very well that "a touch of mildew" meant that his
English seed oats were already ruined. Again they had not done
as he had ordered.
"Why, but I told you during Lent to put in pipes," he cried.
"Don't put yourself out; we shall get it all done in time."
Levin waved his hand angrily, went into the granary to glance at
the oats, and then to the stable. The oats were not yet spoiled.
But the peasants were carrying the oats in spaces when they might
simply let the slide down into the lower granary; and arranging
for this to be done, and taking two workmen from there for sowing
clover, Levin got over his vexation with the bailiff. Indeed, it
was such a lovely day that one could not be angry.
"Ignat!" he called to the coachman, who, with his sleeves tucked
up, was washing the carriage wheels, "saddle me..."
"Well, let it be Kolpik."
While they were saddling his horse, Levin again called up the
bailiff, who was handing about in sight, to make it up with him,
and began talking to him about the spring operations before them,
and his plans for the farm.
The wagons were to begin carting manure earlier, so as to get all
done before the early mowing. And the ploughing of the further
land to go on without a break so as to let it ripen lying fallow.
And the mowing to be all done by hired labor, not on
half-profits. The bailiff listened attentively, and obviously
made an effort to approve of his employer's projects. But still
he had that look Levin knew so well that always irritated him, a
look of hopelessness and despondency. That look said: "That's
all very well, but as God wills."
Nothing mortified Levin so much as that tone. But it was the
tone common to all the bailiffs he had ever had. They had all
taken up that attitude to his plans, and so now he was not
angered by it, but mortified, and felt all the more roused to
struggle against this, as it seemed, elemental force continually
ranged against him, for which he could find no other expression
than "as God wills."
"If we can manage it, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said the bailiff.
"Why ever shouldn't you manage it?"
"We positively must have another fifteen laborers. And they
don't turn up. There were some here today asking seventy roubles
for the summer."
Levin was silent. Again he was brought face to face with that
opposing force. He knew that however much they tried, they could
not hire more than forty--thirty-seven perhaps or thirty-eight--
laborers for a reasonable sum. Some forty had been taken on, and
there were no more. But still he could not help struggling
"Send to Sury, to Tchefirovka; if they don't come we must look
"Oh, I'll send, to be sure," said Vassily Fedorovitch
despondently. "But there are the horses, too, they're not good
"We'll get some more. I know, of course," Levin added laughing,
"you always want to do with as little and as poor quality as
possible; but this year I'm not going to let you have things your
own way. I'll see to everything myself."
"Why, I don't think you take much rest as it is. It cheers us up
to work under the master's eye..."
"So they're sowing clover behind the Birch Dale? I'll go and
have a look at them," he said, getting on to the little bay cob,
Kolpik, who was let up by the coachman.
"You can't get across the streams, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," the
"All right, I'll go by the forest."
And Levin rode through the slush of the farmyard to the gate and
out into the open country, his good little horse, after his long
inactivity, stepping out gallantly, snorting over the pools, and
asking, as it were, for guidance. If Levin had felt happy before
in the cattle pens and farmyard, he felt happier yet in the open
country. Swaying rhythmically with the ambling paces of his good
little cob, drinking in the warm yet fresh scent of the snow and
the air, as he rode through his forest over the crumbling, wasted
snow, still left in parts, and covered with dissolving tracks, he
rejoiced over every tree, with the moss reviving on its bark and
the buds swelling on its shoots. When he came out of the forest,
in the immense plain before him, his grass fields stretched in an
unbroken carpet of green, without one bare place or swamp, only
spotted here and there in the hollows with patches of melting
snow. He was not put out of temper even by the sight of the
peasants' horses and colts trampling down his young grass (he
told a peasant he met to drive them out), nor by the sarcastic
and stupid reply of the peasant Ipat, whom he met on the way, and
asked, "Well, Ipat, shall we soon be sowing?" "We must get the
ploughing done first, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," answered Ipat.
The further he rode, the happier he became, and plans for the
land rose to his mind each better than the last; to plant all his
fields with hedges along the southern borders, so that the snow
should not lie under them; to divide them up into six fields of
arable and three of pasture and hay; to build a cattle yard at
the further end of the estate, and to dig a pond and to construct
movable pens for the cattle as a means of manuring the land. And
then eight hundred acres of wheat, three hundred of potatoes, and
four hundred of clover, and not one acre exhausted.
Absorbed in such dreams, carefully keeping his horse by the
hedges, so as not to trample his young crops, he rode up to the
laborers who had been sent to sow clover. A cart with the seed
in it was standing, not at the edge, but in the middle of the
crop, and the winter corn had been torn up by the wheels and
trampled by the horse. Both the laborers were sitting in the
hedge, probably smoking a pipe together. The earth in the cart,
with which the seed was mixed, was not crushed to powder, but
crusted together or adhering in clods. Seeing the master, the
laborer, Vassily, went towards the cart, while Mishka set to work
sowing. This was not as it should be, but with the laborers
Levin seldom lost his temper. When Vassily came up, Levin told
him to lead the horse to the hedge.
"It's all right, sir, it'll spring up again," responded Vassily.
"Please don't argue," said Levin, "but do as you're told."
"Yes, sir," answered Vassily, and he took the horse's head.
"What a sowing, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," he said, hesitating;
"first rate. Only it's a work to get about! You drag a ton of
earth on your shoes."
"Why is it you have earth that's not sifted?" said Levin.
"Well, we crumble it up," answered Vassily, taking up some seed
and rolling the earth in his palms.
Vassily was not to blame for their having filled up his cart with
unsifted earth, but still it was annoying.
Levin had more than once already tried a way he knew for stifling
his anger, and turning all that seemed dark right again, and he
tried that way now. He watched how Mishka strode along, swinging
the huge clods of earth that clung to each foot; and getting off
his horse, he took the sieve from Vassily and started sowing
"Where did you stop?"
Vassily pointed to the mark with his foot, and Levin went forward
as best he could, scattering the seed on the land. Walking was a
difficult as on a bog, and by the time Levin had ended the row he
was in a great heat, and he stopped and gave up the sieve to
"Well, master, when summer's here, mind you don't scold me for
these rows," said Vassily.
"Eh?" said Levin cheerily, already feeling the effect of his
"Why, you'll see in the summer time. It'll look different. Look
you where I sowed last spring. How I did work at it! I do my
best, Konstantin Dmitrievitch, d'ye see, as I would for my own
father. I don't like bad work myself, nor would I let another
man do it. What's good for the master's good for us too. To
look out yonder now," said Vassily, pointing, "it does one's
"It's a lovely spring, Vassily."
"Why, it's a spring such as the old men don't remember the like
of. I was up home; an old man up there has sown wheat too, about
an acre of it. He was saying you wouldn't know it from rye."
"Have yo been sowing wheat long?"
"Why, sir, it was you taught us the year before last. You gave
me two measures. We sold about eight bushels and sowed a rood."
"Well, mind you crumble up the clods," said Levin, going towards
his horse, "and keep an eye on Mishka. And if there's a good
crop you shall have half a rouble for every acre."
"Humbly thankful. We are very well content, sir, as it is."
Levin got on his horse and rode towards the field where was last
year's clover, and the one which was ploughed ready for the
The crop of clover coming up in the stubble was magnificent. It
had survived everything, and stood up vividly green through the
broken stalks of last year's wheat. The horse sank in up to
the pasterns, and he drew each hoof with a sucking sound out of
the half-thawed ground. Over the ploughland riding was utterly
impossible; the horse could only keep a foothold where there was
ice, and in the thawing furrows he sank deep in at each step.
The ploughland was in splendid condition; in a couple of days it
would be fit for harrowing and sowing. Everything was capital,
everything was cheering. Levin rode back across the streams,
hoping the water would have gone down. And he did in fact get
across, and startled two ducks. "There must be snipe too," he
thought, and just as he reached the turning homewards he met the
forest keeper, who confirmed his theory about the snipe.
Levin went home at a trot, so as to have time to eat his dinner
and get his gun ready for the evening.
As he rode up to the house in the happiest frame of mind, Levin
heard the bell ring at the side of the principal entrance of the
"Yes, that's someone from the railway station," he thought,
"just the time to be here from the Moscow train...Who could it
be? What if it's brother Nikolay? He did say: 'Maybe I'll go
to the waters, or maybe I'll come down to you.'" He felt
dismayed and vexed for the first minute, that his brother
Nikolay's presence should come to disturb his happy mood of
spring. But he felt ashamed of the feeling, and at once he
opened, as it were, the arms of his soul, and with a softened
feeling of joy and expectation, now he hoped with all his heart
that it was his brother. He pricked up his horse, and riding out
from behind the acacias he saw a hired three-horse sledge from
the railway station, and a gentleman in a fur coat. It was not
his brother. "Oh, if it were only some nice person one could
talk to a little!" he thought.
"Ah," cried Levin joyfully, flinging up both his hands. "Here's
a delightful visitor! Ah, how glad I am to see you!" he shouted,
recognizing Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"In shall find out for certain whether she's married, or when
she's going to be married," he thought. And on that delicious
spring day he felt that the thought of her did not hurt him at
"Well, you didn't expect me, eh?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
getting out of the sledge, splashed with mud on the bridge of his
nose, on his cheek, and on his eyebrows, but radiant with health
and good spirits. "I've come to see you in the first place," he
said, embracing and kissing him, "to have some stand-shooting
second, and to sell the forest at Ergushovo third."
"Delightful! What a spring we're having! How ever did you get
along in a sledge?"
"In a cart it would have been worse still, Konstantin
Dmitrievitch," answered the driver, who knew him.
"Well, I'm very, very glad to see you," said Levin, with a
genuine smile of childlike delight.
Levin let his friend to the room set apart for visitors, where
Stepan Arkadyevitch's things were carried also--a bag, a gun in
a case, a satchel for cigars. Leaving him there to wash and
change his clothes, Levin went off to the counting house to speak
about the ploughing and clover. Agafea Mihalovna, always very
anxious for the credit of the house, met him in the hall with
inquiries about dinner.
"Do just as you like, only let it be as soon as possible," he
said, and went to the bailiff.
When he came back, Stepan Arkadyevitch, washed and combed, came
out of his room with a beaming smile, and they went upstairs
"Well, I am glad I managed to get away to you! Now I shall
understand what the mysterious business is that you are always
absorbed in here. No, really, I envy you. What a house, how
nice it all is! So bright, so cheerful!" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, forgetting that it was not always spring and fine
weather like that day. "And your nurse is simply charming! A
pretty maid in an apron might be even more agreeable, perhaps;
but for your severe monastic style it does very well."
Stepan Arkadyevitch told him many interesting pieces of news;
especially interesting to Levin was the news that his brother,
Sergey Ivanovitch, was intending to pay him a visit in the
Not one word did Stepan Arkadyevitch say in reference to Kitty
and the Shtcherbatskys; he merely gave him greetings from his
wife. Levin was grateful to him for his delicacy and was very
glad of his visitor. As always happened with him during his
solitude, a mass of ideas and feelings had been accumulating
within him, which he could not communicate to those about him.
And now he poured out upon Stepan Arkadyevitch his poetic joy in
the spring, and his failures and plans for the land, and his
thoughts and criticisms on the books he had been reading, and the
idea of his own book, the basis of which really was, though he
was unaware of it himself, a criticism of all the old books on
agriculture. Stepan Arkadyevitch, always charming, understanding
everything at the slightest reference, was particularly charming
on this visit, and Levin noticed in him a special tenderness, as
it were, and a new tone of respect that flattered him.
The efforts of Agafea Mihalovna and the cook, that the dinner
should be particularly good, only ended in two famished friends
attacking the preliminary course, eating a great deal of bread
and butter, salt goose and salted mushrooms, and in Levin's
finally ordering the soup to be served without the accompaniment
of little pies, with which the cook had particularly meant to
impress their visitor. But though Stepan Arkadyevitch was
accustomed to very different dinners, he thought everything
excellent: the herb brandy, and the bread, and the butter, and
above all the salt goose and the mushrooms, and the nettle soup,
and the chicken in white sauce, and the white Crimean wine--
everything was superb and delicious.
"Splendid, splendid!" he said, lighting a fat cigar after the
roast. "I feel as if, coming to you, I had landed on a peaceful
shore after the noise and jolting of a steamer. And so you
maintain that the laborer himself is an element to be studied and
to regulate the choice of methods in agriculture. Of course, I'm
an ignorant outsider; but I should fancy theory and its
application will have its influence on the laborer too."
"Yes, but wait a bit. I'm not talking of political economy, I'm
talking of the science of agriculture. It ought to be like the
natural sciences, and to observe given phenomena and the laborer
in his economic, ethnographical..."
At that instant Agafea Mihalovna came in with jam.
"Oh, Agafea Mihalovna," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, kissing the
tips of his plump fingers, "what salt goose, what herb
brandy!...What do yo think, isn't it time to start, Kostya?" he
Levin looked out of the window at the sun sinking behind the bare
tree-tops of the forest.
"Yes, it's time," he said. "Kouzma, get ready the trap," and he
Stepan Arkadyevitch, going down, carefully took the canvas cover
off his varnished gun case with his own hands, and opening it,
began to get ready his expensive new-fashioned gun. Kouzma, who
already scented a big tip, never left Stepan Arkadyevitch's side,
and put on him both his stockings and boots, a task which Stepan
Arkadyevitch readily left him.
"Kostya, give orders that if the merchant Ryabinin comes...I told
him to come today, he's to be brought in and to wait for me..."
"Why, do you mean to say you're selling the forest to Ryabinin?"
"Yes. Do you know him?"
"To be sure I do. I have had to do business with him,
'positively and conclusively.'"
Stepan Arkadyevitch laughed. "Positively and conclusively" were
the merchant's favorite words.
"Yes, it's wonderfully funny the way he talks. She knows where
her master's going!" he added, patting Laska, who hung about
Levin, whining and licking his hands, his boots, and his gun.
The trap was already at the steps when they went out.
"I told them to bring the trap round; or would you rather walk?"
"No, we'd better drive," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting into
the trap. He sat down, tucked the tiger-skin rug round him, and
lighted a cigar. "How is it you don't smoke? A cigar is a sort
of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign
of pleasure. Come, this is life! How splendid it is! This is
how In should like to live!"
"Why, who prevents you?" said Levin, smiling.
"No, you're a lucky man! You've got everything you like. You
like horses--and you have them; dogs--you have them; shooting--
you have it; farming--you have it."
"Perhaps because I rejoice in what I have, and don't fret for
what I haven't," said Levin, thinking of Kitty.
Stepan Arkadyevitch comprehended, looked at him, but said
Levin was grateful to Oblonsky for noticing, with his
never-failing tact, that he dreaded conversation about the
Shtcherbatskys, and so saying nothing about them. But now Levin
was longing to find out what was tormenting him so, yet he had
not the courage to begin.
"Come, tell me how things are going with you," said Levin,
bethinking himself that it was not nice of him to think only of
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes sparkled merrily.
"You don't admit, I know, that one can be fond of new rolls when
one has had one's rations of bread--to your mind it's a crime;
but I don't count life as life without love," he said, taking
Levin's question his own way. "What am I to do? I'm made that
way. And really, one does so little harm to anyone, and gives
oneself so much pleasure..."
"What! is there something new, then?" queried Levin.
"Yes, my boy, there is! There, do you see, you know the type of
Ossian's women.... Women, such as one sees in dreams.... Well,
these women are sometimes to be met in reality...and these women
are terrible. Woman, don't you know, is such a subject that
however much you study it, it's always perfectly new."
"Well, then, it would be better not to study it."
"No. Some mathematician has said that enjoyment lies in the
search for truth, not in the finding it."
Levin listened in silence, and in spite of all the efforts he
made, he could not in the least enter into the feelings of his
friend and understand his sentiments and the charm of studying
The place fixed on for the stand-shooting was not far above a
stream in a little aspen copse. On reaching the copse, Levin got
out of the trap and led Oblonsky to a corner of a mossy, swampy
glade, already quite free from snow. He went back himself to a
double birch tree on the other side, and leaning his gun on the
fork of a dead lower branch, he took off his full overcoat,
fastened his belt again, and worked his arms to see if they were
Gray old Laska, who had followed them, sat down warily opposite
him and pricked up her ears. The sun was setting behind a thick
forest, and in the glow of sunset the birch trees, dotted about
in the aspen copse, stood out clearly with their hanging twigs,
and their buds swollen almost to bursting.
From the thickest parts of the copse, where the snow still
remained, came the faint sound of narrow winding threads of water
running away. Tiny birds twittered, and now and then fluttered
from tree to tree.
In the pauses of complete stillness there came the rustle of last
year's leaves, stirred by the thawing of the earth and the growth
of the grass.
"Imagine! One can hear and see the grass growing!" Levin said
to himself, noticing a wet, slate-colored aspen leaf moving
beside a blade of young grass. He stood, listened, and gazed
sometimes down at the wet mossy ground, sometimes at Laska
listening all alert, sometimes at the sea of bare tree tops that
stretched on the slope below him, sometimes at the darkening sky,
covered with white streaks of cloud.
A hawk flew high over a forest far away with slow sweep of its
wings; another flew with exactly the same motion in the same
direction and vanished. The birds twittered more and more loudly
and busily in the thicket. An owl hooted not far off, and Laska,
starting, stepped cautiously a few steps forward, and putting her
head on one side, began to listen intently. Beyond the stream
was heard the cuckoo. Twice she uttered her usual cuckoo call,
and then gave a hoarse, hurried call and broke down.
"Imagine! the cuckoo already!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, coming
out from behind a bush.
"Yes, In hear it," answered Levin, reluctantly breaking the
stillness with his voice, which sounded disagreeable to himself.
"Now it's coming!"
Stepan Arkadyevitch's figure again went behind the bush, and
Levin saw nothing but the bright flash of a match, followed by
the red glow and blue smoke of a cigarette.
"Tchk! tchk!" came the snapping sound of Stepan Arkadyevitch
cocking his gun.
"What's that cry?" asked Oblonsky, drawing Levin's attention to
a prolonged cry, as though a colt were whinnying in a high voice,
"Oh, don't you know it? That's the hare. But enough talking!
Listen, it's flying!" almost shrieked Levin, cocking his gun.
They heard a shrill whistle in the distance, and in the exact
time, so well known to the sportsman, two seconds later--
another, a third, and after the third whistle the hoarse,
guttural cry could be heard.
Levin looked about him to right and to left, and there, just
facing him against the dusky blue sky above the confused mass of
tender shoots of the aspens, he saw the flying bird. It was
flying straight towards him; the guttural cry, like the even
tearing of some strong stuff, sounded close to his ear; the long
beak and neck of the bird could be seen, and at the very
instant when Levin was taking aim, behind the bush where Oblonsky
stood, there was a flash of red lightning: the bird dropped like
an arrow, and darted upwards again. Again came the red flash and
the sound of a blow, and fluttering its wings as though trying to
keep up in the air, the bird halted, stopped still and instant,
and fell with a heavy splash on the slushy ground.
"Can I have missed it?" shouted Stepan Arkadyevitch, who could
not see for the smoke.
"Here it is!" said Levin, pointing to Laska, who with one ear
raised, wagging the end of her shaggy tail, came slowly back as
though she would prolong the pleasure, and as it were smiling,
brought the dead bird to her master. "Well, I'm glad you were
successful," said Levin, who, at the same time, had a sense of
envy that he had not succeeded in shooting the snipe.
"It was a bad shot from the right barrel," responded Stepan
Arkadyevitch, loading his gun. "Sh...it's flying!"
The shrill whistles rapidly following one another were heard
again. Two snipe, playing and chasing one another, and only
whistling, not crying, flew straight at the very heads of the
sportsmen. There was the report of four shots, and like swallows
the snipe turned swift somersaults in the air and vanished from
The stand-shooting was capital. Stepan Arkadyevitch shot two
more birds and Levin two, of which one was not found. It began
to get dark. Venus, bright and silvery, shone with her soft
light low down in the west behind the birch trees, and high up in
the east twinkled the red lights of Arcturus. Over his head
Levin made out the stars of the Great Bear and lost them again.
The snipe had ceased flying; but Levin resolved to stay a little
longer, till Venus, which he saw below a branch if birch, should
be above it, and the stars of the Great Bear should be perfectly
plain. Venus had risen above the branch, and the ear of the
Great Bear with its shaft was now all plainly visible against the
dark blue sky, yet still he waited.
"Isn't it time to go home?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
It was quite still now in the copse, and not a bird was stirring.
"Let's stay a little while," answered Levin.
"As you like."
They were standing now about fifteen paces from one another.
"Stiva!" said Levin unexpectedly; "how is it you don't tell me
whether your sister-in-law's married yet, or when she's going to
Levin felt so resolute and serene that no answer, he fancied,
could affect him. But he had never dreamed of what Stepan
"She's never thought of being married, and isn't thinking of it;
but she's very ill, and the doctors have sent her abroad.
They're positively afraid she may not live."
"What!" cried Levin. "Very ill? What is wrong with her? How
While they were saying this, Laska, with ears pricked up, was
looking upwards at the sky, and reproachfully at them.
"They have chosen a time to talk," she was thinking. "It's on
the wing.... Here it is, yes, it is. They'll miss it," thought
But at that very instant both suddenly heard a shrill whistle
which, as it were, smote on their ears, and both suddenly seized
their guns and two flashes gleamed, and two gangs sounded at the
very same instant. The snipe flying high above instantly folded
its wings and fell into a thicket, bending down the delicate
"Splendid! Together!" cried Levin, and he ran with Laska into the
thicket to look for the snipe.
"Oh, yes, what was it that was unpleasant?" he wondered. "Yes,
Kitty's ill.... Well, it can't be helped; I'm very sorry," he
"She's found it! Isn't she a clever thing?" he said, taking the
warm bird from Laska's mouth and packing it into the almost full
game bag. "I've got it, Stiva!" he shouted.
On the way home Levin asked all details of Kitty's illness and
the Shtcherbatskys' plans, and though he would have been ashamed
to admit it, he was pleased at what he heard. He was pleased
that there was still hope, and still more pleased that she should
be suffering who had made him suffer so much. But when Stepan
Arkadyevitch began to speak of the causes of Kitty's illness, and
mentioned Vronsky's name, Levin cut him short.
"I have no right whatever to know family matters, and, to tell
the truth, no interest in them either."
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled hardly perceptibly, catching the
instantaneous change he knew so well in Levin's face, which had
become as gloomy as it had been bright a minute before.
"Have you quite settled about the forest with Ryabinin?" asked
"Yes, it's settled. The price is magnificent; thirty-eight
thousand. Eight straight away, and the rest in six years. I've
been bothering about it for ever so long. No one would give
"Then you've as good as given away your forest for nothing," said
"How do you mean for nothing?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with a
good-humored smile, knowing that nothing would be right in
Levin's eyes now.
"Because the forest is worth at least a hundred and fifty roubles
the acre," answered Levin.
"Oh, these farmers!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch playfully. "Your
tone of contempt for us poor townsfolk!... But when it comes to
business, we do it better than anyone. I assure you I have
reckoned it all out," he said, "and the forest is fetching a very
good price--so much so that I'm afraid of this fellow's crying
off, in fact. You know it's not 'timber,'" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, hoping by this distinction to convince Levin
completely of the unfairness of his doubts. "And it won't run to
more than twenty-five yards of fagots per acre, and he's giving
me at the rate of seventy roubles the acre."
Levin smiled contemptuously. "I know," he thought, "that fashion
not only in him, but in all city people, who, after being twice
in ten years in the country, pick up two or three phrases and use
them in season and out of season, firmly persuaded that they know
all about it. 'Timber, run to so many yards the acre.' He says
those words without understanding them himself."
"I wouldn't attempt to teach you what you write about in your
office," said he, "and if need arose, I should come to you to ask
about it. But you're so positive you know all the lore of the
forest. It's difficult. Have you counted the trees?"
"How count the trees?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing, still
trying to draw his friend out of his ill-temper. "Count the
sands of the sea, number the stars. Some higher power might do
"Oh, well, the higher power of Ryabinin can. Not a single
merchant ever buys a forest without counting the trees, unless
they get it given them for nothing, as you're doing now. I know
your forest. I go there every year shooting, and your forest's
worth a hundred and fifty roubles and acre paid down, while he's
giving you sixty by installments. So that in fact you're making
him a present of thirty thousand."
"Come, don't let your imagination run away with you," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch piteously. "Why was it none would give it, then?"
"Why, because he has an understanding with the merchants; he's
bought them off. I've had to do with all of them; I know them.
They're not merchants, you know: they're speculators. He
wouldn't look at a bargain that gave him ten, fifteen per cent
profit, but holds back to buy a rouble's worth for twenty
"Well, enough of it! You're out of temper."
"Not the least," said Levin gloomily, as they drove up to the
At the steps there stood a trap tightly covered with iron and
leather, with a sleek horse tightly harnessed with broad
collar-straps. In the trap sat the chubby, tightly belted clerk
who served Ryabinin as coachman. Ryabinin himself was already in
the house, and met the friends in the hall. Ryabinin was a tall,
thinnish, middle-aged man, with mustache and a projecting
clean-shaven chin, and prominent muddy-looking eyes. He was
dressed in a long-skirted blue coat, with buttons below the waist
at the back, and wore high boots wrinkled over the ankles and
straight over the calf, with big galoshes drawn over them. He
rubbed his face with his handkerchief, and wrapping round him his
coat, which sat extremely well as it was, he greeted them with a
smile, holding out his hand to Stepan Arkadyevitch, as though he
wanted to catch something.
"So here you are," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, giving him his hand.
"I did not venture to disregard your excellency's commands,
though the road was extremely bad. I positively walked the whole
way, but I am here at my time. Konstantin Dmitrievitch, my
respects"; he turned to Levin, trying to seize his hand too. But
Levin, scowling, made as though he did not notice his hand, and
took out the snipe. "Your honors have been diverting yourselves
with the chase? What kind of bird may it be, pray?" added
Ryabinin, looking contemptuously at the snipe: "a great
delicacy, I suppose." And he shook his head disapprovingly, as
though he had grave doubts whether this game were worth the
"Would you like to go into my study?" Levin said in French to
Stepan Arkadyevitch, scowling morosely. "Go into my study; you
can talk there."
"Quite so, where you please," said Ryabinin with contemptuous
dignity, as though wishing to make it felt that others might be
in difficulties as to how to behave, but that he could never be
in any difficulty about anything.
On entering the study Ryabinin looked about, as his habit was, as
though seeking the holy picture, but when he had found it, he did
not cross himself. He scanned the bookcases and bookshelves, and
with the same dubious air with which he had regarded the snipe,
he smiled contemptuously and hook his head disapprovingly, as
though by no means willing to allow that this game were worth the
"Well, have you brought the money?" asked Oblonsky. "Sit down."
"Oh, don't trouble about the money. I've come to see you to talk
"What is there to talk over? But do sit down."
"I don't mind if I do," said Ryabinin, sitting down and leaning
his elbows on the back of his chair in a position of the
intensest discomfort to himself. "You must knock it down a bit,
prince. It would be too bad. The money is ready conclusively to
the last farthing. As to paying the money down, there'll be no
Levin, who had meanwhile been putting his gun away in the
cupboard, was just going out of the door, but catching the
merchant's words, he stopped.
"Why, you've got the forest for nothing as it is," he said. "He
came to me too late, or I'd have fixed the price for him."
Ryabinin got up, and in silence, with a smile, he looked Levin
down and up.
"Very close about money is Konstantin Dmitrievitch," he said with
a smile, turning to Stepan Arkadyevitch; "there's positively no
dealing with him. In was bargaining for some wheat of him, and a
pretty price In offered too."
"Why should I give you my goods for nothing? I didn't pick it up
on the ground, nor steal it either."
"Mercy on us! nowadays there's no chance at all of stealing.
With the open courts and everything done in style, nowadays
there's no question of stealing. We are just talking things over
like gentlemen. His excellency's asking too much for the forest.
I can't make both ends meet over it. I must ask for a little
"But is the thing settled between you or not? If it's settled,
it's useless haggling; but if it's not," said Levin, "I'll buy
The smile vanished at once from Ryabinin's face. A hawklike,
greedy, cruel expression was left upon it. With rapid, bony
fingers he unbuttoned his coat, revealing a shirt, bronze
waistcoat buttons, and a watch chain, and quickly pulled out a
fat old pocketbook.
"Here you are, the forest is mine," he said, crossing himself
quickly, and holding out his hand. "Take the money; it's my
forest. That's Ryabinin's way of doing business; he doesn't
haggle over every half-penny," he added, scowling and waving the
"I wouldn't be in a hurry if I were you," said Levin.
"Come, really," said Oblonsky in surprise. "I've given my word,
Levin went out of the room, slamming the door. Ryabinin looked
towards the door and shook his head with a smile.
"It's all youthfulness--positively nothing but boyishness. Why,
I'm buying it, upon my honor, simply, believe me, for the glory
of it, that Ryabinin, and no one else, should have bought the
copse of Oblonsky. And as to the profits, why, I must make what
God gives. In God's name. If you would kindly sign the
Within an hour the merchant, stroking his big overcoat neatly
down, and hooding up his jacket, with the agreement in his
pocket, seated himself in his tightly covered trap, and drove
"Ugh, these gentlefolks!" he said to the clerk. "They--they're
a nice lot!"
"That's so," responded the clerk, handing him the reins and
buttoning the leather apron. "But I can congratulate you on the
purchase, Mihail Ignatitch?"
Stepan Arkadyevitch went upstairs with his pocket bulging with
notes, which the merchant had paid him for three months in
advance. The business of the forest was over, the money in his
pocket; their shooting had been excellent, and Stepan
Arkadyevitch was in the happiest frame of mind, and so he felt
specially anxious to dissipate the ill-humor that had come upon
Levin. He wanted to finish the day at supper as pleasantly as it
had been begun.
Levin certainly was out of humor, and in spite off all his desire
to be affectionate and cordial to his charming visitor, he could
not control his mood. The intoxication of the news that Kitty
was not married had gradually begun to work upon him.
Kitty was not married, but ill, and ill from love for a man who
had slighted her. This slight, as it were, rebounded upon him.
Vronsky had slighted her, and she had slighted him, Levin.
Consequently Vronsky had the right to despise Levin, and
therefore he was his enemy. But all this Levin did not think
out. He vaguely felt that there was something in it insulting to
him, and he was not angry now at what had disturbed him, but he
fell foul of everything that presented itself. The stupid sale
of the forest, the fraud practiced upon Oblonsky and concluded in
his house, exasperated him.
"Well, finished?" he said, meeting Stepan Arkadyevitch upstairs.
"Would you like supper?"
"Well, I wouldn't say no to it. What an appetite I get in the
country! Wonderful! Why didn't you offer Ryabinin something?"
"Oh, damn him!"
"Still, how you do treat him!" said Oblonsky. "You didn't even
shake hands with him. Why not shake hands with him?"
"Because I don't shake hands with a waiter, and a waiter's a
hundred times better than he is."
"What a reactionist you are, really! What about the amalgamation
of classes?" said Oblonsky.
"Anyone who likes amalgamating is welcome to it, but it sickens
"You're a regular reactionist, I see."
"Really, I have never considered what I am. I am Konstantin
Levin, and nothing else."
"And Konstantin Levin very much out of temper," said Stepan
"Yes, I am out of temper, and do you know why? Because--excuse
me--of your stupid sale..."
Stepan Arkadyevitch frowned good-humoredly, like one who feels
himself teased and attacked for no fault of his own.
"Come, enough about it!" he said. "When did anybody ever sell
anything without being told immediately after the sale, 'It was
worth much more'? But when one wants to sell, no one will give
anything.... No, I see you've a grudge against that unlucky
"Maybe I have. And do you know why? You'll say again that I'm a
reactionist, or some other terrible word; but all the same it
does annoy and anger me to see on all sides the impoverishing of
the nobility to which I belong, and, in spite of the amalgamation
of classes, I'm glad to belong. And their impoverishment is not
due to extravagance--that would be nothing; living in good style
--that's the proper thing for noblemen; it's only the nobles who
know how to do it. Now the peasants about us buy land, and I
don't mind that. The gentleman does nothing, while the peasant
works and supplants the idle man. That's as it ought to be. And
I'm very glad for the peasant. But I do mind seeing the process
of impoverishment from a sort of--I don't know what to call it--
innocence. Here a Polish speculator bought for half its value a
magnificent estate from a young lady who lives in Nice. And
there a merchant will get three acres of land, worth ten roubles,
as security for the loan of one rouble. Here, for no kind of
reason, you've made that rascal a present of thirty thousand
"Well, what should I have done? Counted every tree?"
"Of course, they must be counted. You didn't count them, but
Ryabinin did. Ryabinin's children will have means of livelihood
and education, while yours maybe will not!"
"Well, you must excuse me, but there's something mean in this
counting. We have our business and they have theirs, and they
must make their profit. Anyway, the thing's done, and there's an
end of it. And here come some poached eggs, my favorite dish.
And Agafea Mihalovna will give us that marvelous herb-brandy..."
Stepan Arkadyevitch sat down at the table and began joking with
Agafea Mihalovna, assuring her that it was long since he had
tasted such a dinner and such a supper.
"Well, you do praise it, anyway," said Agafea Mihalovna, "but
Konstantin Dmitrievitch, give him what you will--a crust of
bread--he'll eat it and walk away."
Though Levin tried to control himself, he was gloomy and silent.
He wanted to put one question to Stepan Arkadyevitch, but he
could not bring himself to the point, and could not find the
words or the moment in which to put it. Stepan Arkadyevitch had
gone down to his room, undressed, again washed, and attired in a
nightshirt with goffered frills, he had got into bed, but Levin
still lingered in his room, talking of various trifling matters,
and not daring to ask what he wanted to know.
"How wonderfully they make this soap," he said gazing at a piece
of soap he was handling, which Agafea Mihalovna had put ready for
the visitor but Oblonsky had not used. "Only look; why, it's a
work of art."
"Yes, everything's brought to such a pitch of perfection
nowadays," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, with a moist and blissful
yawn. "The theater, for instance, and the entertainments...
a--a--a!" he yawned. "The electric light everywhere...a--a--a!"
"Yes, the electric light," said Levin. "Yes. Oh, and where's
Vronsky now?" he asked suddenly, laying down the soap.
"Vronsky?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, checking his yawn; "he's in
Petersburg. He left soon after you did, and he's not once been
in Moscow since. And do you know, Kostya, I'll tell you the
truth," he went on, leaning his elbow on the table, and propping
on his hand his handsome ruddy face, in which his moist,
good-natured, sleepy eyes shone like stars. "It's your own
fault. You took fright at the sight of your rival. But, as I
told you at the time, I couldn't say which had the better
chance. Why didn't you fight it out? I told you at the time
that...." He yawned inwardly, without opening his mouth.
"Does he know, or doesn't he, that I did make an offer?" Levin
wondered, gazing at him. "Yes, there's something humbugging,
diplomatic in his face," and feeling he was blushing, he looked
Stepan Arkadyevitch straight in the face without speaking.
"If there was anything on her side at the time, it was nothing
but a superficial attraction," pursued Oblonsky. "His being such
a perfect aristocrat, don't you know, and his future position in
society, had an influence not with her, but with her mother."
Levin scowled. The humiliation of his rejection stung him to the
heart, as though it were a fresh wound he had only just received.
But he was at home, and the walls of home are a support.
"Stay, stay," he began, interrupting Oblonsky. "You talk of his
being an aristocrat. But allow me to ask what it consists in,
that aristocracy of Vronsky or of anybody else, beside which I
can be looked down upon? You consider Vronsky an aristocrat,
but I don't. A man whose father crawled up from nothing at all
by intrigue, and whose mother--God knows whom she wasn't mixed
up with.... No, excuse me, but I consider myself aristocratic,
and people like me, who can point back in the past to three or
four honorable generations of their family, of the highest degree
of breeding (talent and intellect, of course that's another
matter), and have never curried favor with anyone, never depended
on anyone for anything, like my father and my grandfather. And I
know many such. You think it mean of me to count the trees in my
forest, while you may Ryabinin a present of thirty thousand; but
you get rents from your lands and I don't know what, while I
don't and so I prize what's come to me from my ancestors or been
won by hard work.... We are aristocrats, and not those who can
only exist by favor of the powerful of this world, and who can be
bought for twopence halfpenny."
"Well, but whom are you attacking? I agree with you," said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, sincerely and genially; though he was aware
that in the class of those who could be bought for twopence
halfpenny Levin was reckoning him too. Levin's warmth gave him
genuine pleasure. "Whom are you attacking? Though a good deal
is not true that you say about Vronsky, but I won't talk about
that. I tell you straight out, if I were you, I should go back
with me to Moscow, and..."
"No; I don't know whether you know it or not, but I don't care.
And I tell you--I did make an offer and was rejected, and
Katerina Alexandrovna is nothing now to me but a painful and
"What ever for? What nonsense!"
"But we won't talk about it. Please forgive me, if I've been
nasty," said Levin. Now that he had opened his heart, he became
as he had been in the morning. "You're not angry with me, Stiva?
Please don't be angry," he said, and smiling, he took his hand.
"Of course not; not a bit, and no reason to be. I'm glad we've
spoken openly. And do you know, stand-shooting in the morning is
unusually good--why not go? I couldn't sleep the night anyway,
but I might go straight from shooting to the station."
Although all Vronsky's inner life was absorbed in his passion,
his external life unalterably and inevitably followed along the
old accustomed lines of his social and regimental ties and
interests. The interests of his regiment took an important place
in Vronsky's life, both because he was fond of the regiment, and
because the regiment was fond of him. They were not only fond of
Vronsky in his regiment, they respected him too, and were proud
of him; proud that this man, with his immense wealth, his
brilliant education and abilities, and the path open before him
to every kind of success, distinction, and ambition, had
disregarded all that, and of all the interests of life had the
interests of his regiment and his comrades nearest to his heart.
Vronsky was aware of his comrades' view of him, and in addition
to his liking for the life, he felt bound to keep up that
It need not be said that he did not speak of his love to any of
his comrades, nor did he betray his secret even in the wildest
drinking bouts (though indeed he was never so drunk as to lose
all control of himself). And he shut up any of his thoughtless
comrades who attempted to allude to his connection. But in spite
of that, his love was known to all the town; everyone guessed
with more or less confidence at his relations with Madame
Karenina. The majority of the younger men envied him for just
what was the most irksome factor in his love--the exalted
position of Karenin, and the consequent publicity of their
connection in society.
The greater number of the young women, who envied Anna and had
long been weary of hearing her called virtuous, rejoiced at the
fulfillment of their predictions, and were only waiting for a
decisive turn in public opinion to fall upon her with all the
weight of their scorn. They were already making ready their
handfuls of mud to fling at her when the right moment arrived.
The greater number of the middle-aged people and certain great
personages were displeased at the prospect of the impending
scandal in society.
Vronsky's mother, on hearing of his connection, was at first
pleased at it, because nothing to her mind gave such a finishing
touch to a brilliant young man as a liaison in the highest
society; she was pleased, too, that Madame Karenina, who had so
taken her fancy, and had talked so much of her son, was, after
all, just like all other pretty and well-bred women,--at least
according to the Countess Vronskaya's ideas. But she had heard
of late that her son had refused a position offered him of great
importance to his career, simply in order to remain in the
regiment, where he could be constantly seeing Madame Karenina.
She learned that great personages were displeased with him on
this account, and she changed her opinion. She was vexed, too,
that from all she could learn of this connection it was not that
brilliant, graceful, worldly liaison which she would have
welcomed, but a sort of Wertherish, desperate passion, so she was
told, which might well lead him into imprudence. She had not
seen him since his abrupt departure from Moscow, and she sent her
elder son to bid him come to see her.
This elder son, too, was displeased with his younger brother. He
did not distinguish what sort of love his might be, big or
little, passionate or passionless, lasting or passing (he kept a
ballet girl himself, though he was the father of a family, so he
was lenient in these matters), but he knew that this love affair
was viewed with displeasure by those whom it was necessary to
please, and therefore he did not approve of his brother's
Besides the service and society, Vronsky had another great
interest--horses; he was passionately fond of horses.
That year races and a steeplechase had been arranged for the
officers. Vronsky had put his name down, bought a thoroughbred
English mare, and in spite of his love affair, he was looking
forward to the races with intense, though reserved, excitement...
These two passions did not interfere with one another. On the
contrary, he needed occupation and distraction quite apart from
his love, so as to recruit and rest himself from the violent
emotions that agitated him.
On the day of the races at Krasnoe Selo, Vronsky had come earlier
than usual to eat beefsteak in the common messroom of the
regiment. He had no need to be strict with himself, as he had
very quickly been brought down to the required light weight; but
still he had to avoid gaining flesh, and so he eschewed
farinaceous and sweet dishes. He sat with his coat unbuttoned
over a white waistcoat, resting both elbows on the table, and
while waiting for the steak he had ordered he looked at a French
novel that lay open on his plate. He was only looking at the
book to avoid conversation with the officers coming in and out;
he was thinking.
He was thinking of Anna's promise to see him that day after the
races. But he had not seen her for three days, and as her
husband had just returned from aborad, he did not know whether
she would be able to meet him today or not, and he did not know
how to find out. He had had his last interview with her at his
cousin Betsy's summer villa. He visited the Karenins' summer
villa as rarely as possible. Now he wanted to go there, and he
pondered the question how to do it.
"Of course In shall say Betsy has sent me to ask whether she's
coming to the races. Of course, I'll go," he decided, lifting
his head from the book. And as he vividly pictured the happiness
of seeing her, his face lighted up.
"Send to my house, and tell them to have out the carriage and
three horses as quick as they can," he said to the servant, who
handed him the steak on a hot silver dish, and moving the dish up
he began eating.
From the billiard room next door came the sound of balls
knocking, of talk and laughter. Two officers appeared at the
entrance-door: one, a young fellow, with a feeble, delicate
face, who had lately joined the regiment from the Corps of Pages;
the other, a plump, elderly officer, with a bracelet on his
wrist, and little eyes, lost in fat.
Vronsky glanced at them, frowned, and looking down at his book as
though he had not noticed them, he proceeded to eat and read at
the same time.
"What? Fortifying yourself for your work?" said the plump
officer, sitting down beside him.
"As you see," responded Vronsky, knitting his brows, wiping his
mouth, and not looking at the officer.
"So you're not afraid of getting fat?" said the latter, turning a
chair round for the young officer.
"What?" said Vronsky angrily, making a wry face of disgust, and
showing his even teeth.
"You're not afraid of getting fat?"
"Waiter, sherry!" said Vronsky, without replying, and moving the
book to the other side of him, he went on reading.
The plump officer took up the list of wines and turned to the
"You choose what we're to drink," he said, handing him the card,
and looking at him.
"Rhine wine, please," said the young officer, stealing a timid
glance at Vronsky, and trying to pull his scarcely visible
mustache. Seeing that Vronsky did not turn round, the young
officer got up.
"Let's go into the billiard room," he said.
The plump officer rose submissively, and they moved towards the
At that moment there walked into the room the tall and well-built
Captain Yashvin. Nodding with an air of lofty contempt to the
two officers, he went up to Vronsky.
"Ah! here he is!" he cried, bringing his big hand down heavily on
his epaulet. Vronsky looked round angrily, but his face lighted
up immediately with his characteristic expression of genial and
"That's it, Alexey," said the captain, in his loud baritone.
"You must just eat a mouthful, now, and drink only one tiny
"Oh, I'm not hungry."
"There go the inseparables," Yashvin dropped, glancing
sarcastically at the two officers who were at that instant
leaving the room. And he bent his long legs, swatched in tight
riding breeches, and sat down in the chair, too low for him, so
that his knees were cramped up in a sharp angle.
"Why didn't you turn up at the Red Theater yesterday? Numerova
wasn't at all bad. Where were you?"
"In was late at the Tverskoys'," said Vronsky.
"Ah!" responded Yashvin.
Yashvin, a gambler and a rake, a man not merely without moral
principles, but of immoral principles, Yashvin was Vronsky's
greatest friend in the regiment. Vronsky liked him both for his
exceptional physical strength, which he showed for the most part
by being able to drink like a fish, and do without sleep without
being in the slightest degree affected by it; and for his great
strength of character, which he showed in his relations with his
comrades and superior officers, commanding both fear and respect,
and also at cards, when he would play for tens of thousands and
however much he might have drunk, always with such skill and
decision that he was reckoned the best player in the English
Club. Vronsky respected and liked Yashvin particularly because
he felt Yashvin liked him, not for his name and his money, but
for himself. And of all men he was the only one with whom
Vronsky would have liked to speak of his love. He felt that
Yashvin, in spite of his apparent contempt for every sort of
feeling, was the only man who could, so he fancied, comprehend
the intense passion which now filled his whole life. Moreover,
he felt certain that Yashvin, as it was, took no delight in
gossip and scandal, and interpreted his feeling rightly, that is
to say, knew and believed that this passion was not a jest, not a
pastime, but something more serious and important.
Vronsky had never spoken to him of his passion, but he was aware
that he knew all about it, and that he put the right
interpretation on it, and he was glad to see that in his eyes.
"Ah! yes," he said, to the announcement that Vronsky had been at
the Tverskoys'; and his black eyes shining, he plucked at his
left mustache, and began twisting it into his mouth, a bad habit
"Well, and what did you do yesterday? Win anything?" asked
"Eight thousand. But three don't count; he won't pay up."
"Oh, then you can afford to lose over me," said Vronsky,
laughing. (Yashvin had bet heavily on Vronsky in the races.)
"No chance of my losing. Mahotin's the only one that's risky."
And the conversation passed to forecasts of the coming race, the
only thing Vronsky could think of just now.
"Come along, I've finished," said Vronsky, and getting up he went
to the door. Yashvin got up too, stretching his long legs and
his long back.
"It's too early for me to dine, but I must have a drink. I'll
come along directly. Hi, wine!" he shouted, in his rich voice,
that always rang out so loudly at drill, and set the windows
"No, all right," he shouted again immediately after. "You're
going home, so I'll go with you."
And he walked out with Vronsky.
Vronsky was staying in a roomy, clean, Finnish hut, divided into
two by a partition. Petritsky lived with him in camp too.
Petritsky was asleep when Vronsky and Yashvin came into the hut.
"Get up, don't go on sleeping," said Yashvin, going behind the
partition and giving Petritsky, who was lying with ruffled hair
and with his nose in the pillow, a prod on the shoulder.
Petritsky jumped up suddenly onto his knees and looked round.
"Your brother's been here," he said to Vronsky. "He waked me up,
damn him, and said he'd look in again." And pulling up the rug
he flung himself back on the pillow. "Oh, do shut up, Yashvin!"
he said, getting furious with Yashvin, who was pulling the rug
off him. "Shut up!" He turned over and opened his eyes. "You'd
better tell me what to drink; such a nasty taste in my mouth,
"Brandy's better than anything," boomed Yashvin. "Tereshtchenko!
brandy for your master and cucumbers," he shouted, obviously
taking pleasure in the sound of his own voice.
"Brandy, do you think? Eh?" queried Petritsky, blinking and
rubbing his eyes. "And you'll drink something? All right then,
we'll have a drink together! Vronsky, have a drink?" said
Petritsky, getting up and wrapping the tiger-skin rug round him.
He went to the door of the partition wall, raised his hands, and
hummed in French, "There was a king in Thule." "Vronsky, will
you have a drink?"
"Go along," said Vronsky, putting on the coat his valet handed to
"Where are you off to?" asked Yashvin. "Oh, here are your three
horses," he added, seeing the carriage drive up.
"To the stables, and I've got to see Bryansky, too, about the
horses," said Vronsky.
Vronsky had as a fact promised to call at Bryansky's, some eight
miles from Peterhof, and to bring him some money owing for some
horses; and he hoped to have time to get that in too. But his
comrades were at once aware that he was not only going there.
Petritsky, still humming, winked and made a pout with his lips,
as though he would say: "Oh, yes, we know your Bryansky."
"Mind you're not late!" was Yashvin's only comment; and to change
the conversation: "How's my roan? is he doing all right?" he
inquired, looking out of the window at the middle one of the
three horses, which he had sold Vronsky.
"Stop!" cried Petritsky to Vronsky as he was just going out.
"Your brother left a letter and a note for you. Wait a bit;
where are they?"
"Well, where are they?"
"Where are they? That's just the question!" said Petritsky
solemnly, moving his forefinger upwards from his nose.
"Come, tell me; this is silly!" said Vronsky smiling.
"I have not lighted the fire. Here somewhere about."
"Come, enough fooling! Where is the letter?"
"No, I've forgotten really. Or was it a dream? Wait a bit, wait
a bit! But what's the use of getting in a rage. If you'd drunk
four bottles yesterday as I did you'd forget where you were
lying. Wait a bit, I'll remember!"
Petritsky went behind the partition and lay down on his bed.
"Wait a bit! This was how I was lying, and this was how he was
standing. Yes--yes--yes.... Here it is!"--and Petritsky pulled
a letter out from under the mattress, where he had hidden it.
Vronsky took the letter and his brother's note. It was the
letter he was expecting--from his mother, reproaching him for
not having been to see her--and the note was from his brother to
say that he must have a little talk with him. Vronsky knew that
it was all about the same thing. "What business is it of
theirs!" thought Vronsky, and crumpling up the letters he thrust
them between the buttons of his coat so as to read them carefully
on the road. In the porch of the hut he was met by two officers;
one of his regiment and one of another.
Vronsky's quarters were always a meeting place for all the
"Where are you off to?"
"I must go to Peterhof."
"Has the mare come from Tsarskoe?"
"Yes, but I've not seen her yet."
"They say Mahotin's Gladiator's lame."
"Nonsense! But however are you going to race in this mud?" said
"Here are my saviors!" cried Petritsky, seeing them come in.
Before him stood the orderly with a tray of brandy and salted
cucumbers. "Here's Yashvin ordering me a drink a pick-me-up."
"Well, you did give it to us yesterday," said one of those who
had come in; "you didn't let us get a wink of sleep all night."
"Oh, didn't we make a pretty finish!" said Petritsky. "Volkov
climbed onto the roof and began telling us how sad he was. I
said: 'Let's have music, the funeral march!' He fairly dropped
asleep on the roof over the funeral march."
"Drink it up; you positively must drink the brandy, and then
seltzer water and a lot of lemon," said Yashvin, standing over
Petritsky like a mother making a child take medicine, "and then a
little champagne--just a small bottle."
"Come, there's some sense in that. Stop a bit, Vronsky. We'll
all have a drink."
"No; good-bye all of you. I'm not going to drink today."
"Why, are you gaining weight? All right, then we must have it
alone. Give us the seltzer water and lemon."
"Vronsky!" shouted someone when he was already outside.
"You'd better get your hair cut, it'll weigh you down, especially
at the top."
Vronsky was in fact beginning, prematurely, to get a little bald.
He laughed gaily, showing his even teeth, and puling his cap over
the thin place, went out and got into his carriage.
"To the stables!" he said, and was just pulling out the letters
to read them through, but he thought better of it, and put off
reading them so as not to distract his attention before looking
at the mare. "Later!"
The temporary stable, a wooden shed, had been put up close to the
race course, and there his mare was to have been taken the
previous day. He had not yet seen her there.
During the last few days he had not ridden her out for exercise
himself, but had put her in the charge of the trainer, and so now
he positively did not know in what condition his mare had arrived
yesterday and was today. He had scarcely got out of his carriage
when his groom, the so-called "stable boy," recognizing the
carriage some way off, called the trainer. A dry-looking
Englishman, in high boots and a short jacket, clean-shaven,
except for a tuft below his chin, came to meet him, walking with
the uncouth gait of jockey, turning his elbows out and swaying
from side to side.
"Well, how's Frou-Frou?" Vronsky asked in English.
"All right, sir," the Englishman's voice responded somewhere in
the inside of his throat. "Better not go in," he added, touching
his hat. "I've put a muzzle on her, and the mare's fidgety.
Better not go in, it'll excite the mare."
"No, I'm going in. I want to look at her."
"Come along, then," said the Englishman, frowning, and speaking
with his mouth shut, and with swinging elbows, he went on in
front with his disjointed gait.
They went into the little yard in front of the shed. A stable
boy, spruce and smart in his holiday attire, met them with a
broom in his hand, and followed them. In the shed there were
five horses in their separate stalls, and Vronsky knew that his
chief rival, Gladiator, a very tall chestnut horse, had been
brought there, and must be standing among them. Even more than
his mare, Vronsky longed to see Gladiator, whom he had never
seen. But he knew that by the etiquette of the race course it
was not merely impossible for him to see the horse, but improper
even to ask questions about him. Just as he was passing along
the passage, the boy opened the door into the second horse-box on
the left, and Vronsky caught a glimpse of a big chestnut horse
with white legs. He knew that this was Gladiator, but, with the
feeling of a man turning away from the sight of another man's
open letter, he turned round and went into Frou-Frou's stall.
"The horse is here belonging to Mak...Mak...I never can say the
name," said the Englishman, over his shoulder, pointing his big
finger and dirty nail towards Gladiator's stall.
"Mahotin? Yes, he's my most serious rival," said Vronsky.
"If you were riding him," said the Englishman, "I'd bet on you."
"Frou-Frou's more nervous; he's stronger," said Vronsky, smiling
at the compliment to his riding.
"In a steeplechase it all depends on riding and on pluck," said
Of pluck--that is, energy and courage--Vronsky did not merely
feel that he had enough; what was of far more importance, he was
firmly convinced that no one in the world could have more of this
"pluck" than he had.
"Don't you think I want more thinning down?"
"Oh, no," answered the Englishman. "Please, don't speak loud.
The mare's fidgety," he added, nodding towards the horse-box,
before which they were standing, and from which came the sound of
restless stamping in the straw.
He opened the door, and Vronsky went into the horse-box, dimly
lighted by one little window. In the horse-box stood a dark bay
mare, with a muzzle on, picking at the fresh straw with her
hoofs. Looking round him in the twilight of the horse-box,
Vronsky unconsciously took in once more in a comprehensive glance
all the points of his favorite mare. Frou-Frou was a beast of
medium size, not altogether free from reproach, from a
breeder's point of view. She was small-boned all over; though
her chest was extremely prominent in front, it was narrow. Her
hind-quarters were a little drooping, and in her fore-legs, and
still more in her hind-legs, there was a noticeable curvature.
The muscles of both hind- and fore-legs were not very thick; but
across her shoulders the mare was exceptionally broad, a
peculiarity specially striking now that she was lean from
training. The bones of her legs below the knees looked no
thicker than a finger from in front, but were extraordinarily
thick seen from the side. She looked altogether, except across
the shoulders, as it were, pinched in at the sides and pressed
out in depth. But she had in the highest degree the quality that
makes all defects forgotten: that quality was blood, the blood
that tells, as the English expression has it. The muscles stood
up sharply under the network of sinews, covered with this
delicate, mobile skin, soft as satin, and they were hard a bone.
Her clean-cut head with prominent, bright, spirited eyes,
broadened out at the open nostrils, that showed the red blood in
the cartilage within. About all her figure, and especially her
head, there was a certain expression of energy, and, at the same
time, of softness. She was one of those creatures which seem
only not to speak because the mechanism of their mouth does not
allow them to.
To Vronsky, at any rate, it seemed that she understood all he
felt at that moment, looking at her.
Directly Vronsky went towards her, she drew in a deep breath,
and, turning back her prominent eye till the white looked
bloodshot, she started at the approaching figures from the
opposite side, shaking her muzzle, and shifting lightly from one
leg to the other.
"There, you see how fidgety she is," said the Englishman.
"There, darling! There!" said Vronsky, going up to the mare and
speaking soothingly to her.
But the nearer he came, the more excited she grew. Only when he
stood by her head, she was suddenly quieter, while the muscles
quivered under her soft, delicate coat. Vronsky patted her
strong neck, straightened over her sharp withers a stray lock of
her mane that had fallen on the other side, and moved his face
near her dilated nostrils, transparent as a bat's wing. She drew
a loud breath and snorted out through her tense nostrils,
started, pricked up her sharp ear, and put out her strong, black
lip towards Vronsky, as though she would nip hold of his sleeve.
But remembering the muzzle, she shook it and again began
restlessly stamping one after the other her shapely legs.
"Quiet, darling, quiet!" he said, patting her again over her
hind-quarters; and with a glad sense that his mare was in the
best possible condition, he went out of the horse-box.
The mare's excitement had infected Vronsky. He felt that his
heart was throbbing, and that he, too, like the mare, longed to
move, to bite; it was both dreadful and delicious.
"Well, I rely on you, then," he said to the Englishman;
"half-past six on the ground."
"All right," said the Englishman. "Oh, where are you going, my
lord?" he asked suddenly, using the title "my lord," which he had
scarcely ever used before.
Vronsky in amazement raised his head, and stared, as he knew how
to stare, not into the Englishman's eyes, but at his forehead,
astounded at the impertinence of his question. But realizing
that in asking this the Englishman had been looking at him not as
an employer, but as a jockey, he answered:
"I've got to go to Bryansky's; I shall be home within an hour."
"How often I'm asked that question today!" he said to himself,
and he blushed, a thing which rarely happened to him. The
Englishman looked gravely at him; and, as though he, too, knew
where Vronsky was going, he added:
"The great thing's to keep quiet before a race," said he; "don't
get out of temper or upset about anything."
"All right," answered Vronsky, smiling; and jumping into his
carriage, he told the man to drive to Peterhof.
Before he had driven many paces away, the dark clouds that had
been threatening rain all day broke, and there was a heavy
downpour of rain.
"What a pity!" thought Vronsky, putting up the roof of the
carriage. "It was muddy before, now it will be a perfect swamp."
As he sat in solitude in the closed carriage, he took out his
mother's letter and his brother's note, and read them through.
Yes, it was the same thing over and over again. Everyone, his
mother, his brother, everyone thought fit to interfere in the
affairs of his heart. This interference aroused in him a feeling
of angry hatred--a feeling he had rarely known before. "What
business is it of theirs? Why does everybody feel called upon to
concern himself about me? And why do they worry me so? Just
because they see that this is something they can't understand.
If it were a common, vulgar, worldly intrigue, they would have
left me alone. They feel that this is something different, that
this is not a mere pastime, that this woman is dearer to me than
life. And this is incomprehensible, and that's why it annoys
them. Whatever our destiny is or may be, we have made it
ourselves, and we do not complain of it," he said, in the word we
linking himself with Anna. "No, they must needs teach us how to
live. They haven't an idea of what happiness is; they don't know
that without our love, for us there is neither happiness nor
unhappiness--no life at all," he thought.
He was angry with all of them for their interference just because
he felt in his soul that they, all these people, were right. He
felt that the love that bound him to Anna was not a momentary
impulse, which would pass, as worldly intrigues do pass, leaving
no other traces in the life of either but pleasant or unpleasant
memories. He felt all the torture of his own and her position,
all the difficulty there was for them, conspicuous as they were
in the eye of all the world, in concealing their love, in lying
and deceiving; and in lying, deceiving, feigning, and continually
thinking of others, when the passion that united them was so
intense that they were both oblivious of everything else but
He vividly recalled all the constantly recurring instances of
inevitable necessity for lying and deceit, which were so against
his natural bent. He recalled particularly vividly the shame he
had more than once detected in her at this necessity for lying
and deceit. And he experienced the strange feeling that had
sometimes come upon him since his secret love for Anna. This was
a feeling of loathing for something--whether for Alexey
Alexandrovitch, or for himself, or for the whole world, he could
not have said. But he always drove away this strange feeling.
Now, too, he shook it off and continued the thread of his
"Yes, she was unhappy before, but proud and at peace; and now she
cannot be at peace and feel secure in her dignity, though she
does not show it. Yes, we must put an end to it," he decided.
And for the first time the idea clearly presented itself that it
was essential to put an end to this false position, and the
sooner the better. "Throw up everything, she and I, and hide
ourselves somewhere alone with our love," he said to himself.
The rain did not last long, and by the time Vronsky arrived, his
shaft-horse trotting at full speed and dragging the trace-horses
galloping through the mud, with their reins hanging loose, the
sun had peeped out again, the roofs of the summer villas and the
old limetrees in the gardens on both sides of the principal
streets sparkled with wet brilliance, and from the twigs came a
pleasant drip and from the roofs rushing streams of water. He
thought no more of the shower spoiling the race course, but was
rejoicing now that--thanks to the rain--he would be sure to
find her at home and alone, as he knew that Alexey
Alexandrovitch, who had lately returned from a foreign watering
place, had not moved from Petersburg.
Hoping to find her alone, Vronsky alighted, as he always did, to
avoid attracting attention, before crossing the bridge, and
walked to the house. He did not go up the steps to the street
door, but went into the court.