Part 7 out of 22
"Of course not, I never said a word, but he knew it. No, no,
there are looks, there are ways; I can't forget it, if I live a
"Why so? I don't understand. The whole point is whether you
love him now or not," said Varenka, who called everything by its
"I hate him; I can't forgive myself."
"Why, what for?"
"The shame, the humiliation!"
"Oh! if everyone were as sensitive as you are!" said Varenka.
"There isn't a girl who hasn't been through the same. And it's
all so unimportant."
"Why, what is important?" said Kitty, looking into her face with
"Oh, there's so much that's important," said Varenka, smiling.
"Oh, so much that's more important," answered Varenka, not
knowing what to say. But at that instant they heard the
princess's voice from the window. "Kitty, it's cold! Either get
a shawl, or come indoors."
"It really is time to go in!" said Varenka, getting up. "I have
to go on to Madame Berthe's; she asked me to."
Kitty held her by the hand, and with passionate curiosity and
entreaty her eyes asked her: "What is it, what is this of such
importance that gives you such tranquillity? You know, tell me!"
But Varenka did not even know what Kitty's eyes were asking her.
She merely thought that she had to go to see Madame Berthe too
that evening, and to make haste home in time for maman's tea at
twelve o'clock. She went indoors, collected her music, and
saying good-bye to everyone, was about to go.
"Allow me to see you home," said the colonel.
"Yes, how can you go alone at night like this?" chimed in the
princess. "Anyway, I'll send Parasha."
Kitty saw that Varenka could hardly restrain a smile at the idea
that she needed an escort.
"No, I always go about alone and nothing ever happens to me," she
said, taking her hat. And kissing Kitty once more, without
saying what was important, she stepped out courageously with the
music under her arm and vanished into the twilight of the summer
night, bearing away with her her secret of what was important and
what gave her the calm and dignity so much to be envied.
Kitty made the acquaintance of Madame Stahl too, and this
acquaintance, together with her friendship with Varenka, did not
merely exercise a great influence on her, it also comforted her
in her mental distress. She found this comfort through a
completely new world being opened to her by means of this
acquaintance, a world having nothing in common with her past, an
exalted, noble world, from the height of which she could
contemplate her past calmly. It was revealed to her that besides
the instinctive life to which Kitty had given herself up hitherto
there was a spiritual life. This life was disclosed in religion,
but a religion having nothing in common with that one which Kitty
had known from childhood, and which found expression in litanies
and all-night services at the Widow's Home, where one might meet
one's friends, and in learning by heart Slavonic texts with the
priest. This was a lofty, mysterious religion connected with a
whole series of noble thoughts and feelings, which one could do
more than merely believe because one was told to, which one could
Kitty found all this out not from words. Madame Stahl talked to
Kitty as to a charming child that one looks on with pleasure as
on the memory of one's youth, and only once she said in passing
that in all human sorrows nothing gives comfort but love and
faith, and that in the sight of Christ's compassion for us no
sorrow is trifling--and immediately talked of other things. But
in every gesture of Madame Stahl, in every word, in every
heavenly--as Kitty called it--look, and above all in the whole
story of her life, which she heard from Varenka, Kitty recognized
that something "that was important," of which, till then, she had
Yet, elevated as Madame Stahl's character was, touching as was
her story, and exalted and moving as was her speech, Kitty could
not help detecting in her some traits which perplexed her. She
noticed that when questioning her about her family, Madame Stahl
had smiled contemptuously, which was not in accord with Christian
meekness. She noticed, too, that when she had found a Catholic
priest with her, Madame Stahl had studiously kept her face in the
shadow of the lamp-shade and had smiled in a peculiar way.
Trivial as these two observations were, they perplexed her, and
she had her doubts as to Madame Stahl. But on the other hand
Varenka, alone in the world, without friends or relations, with a
melancholy disappointment in the past, desiring nothing,
regretting nothing, was just that perfection of which Kitty dared
hardly dream. In Varenka she realized that one has but to forget
oneself and love others, and one will be calm, happy, and noble.
And that was what Kitty longed to be. Seeing now clearly what
was the most important, Kitty was not satisfied with being
enthusiastic over it; she at once gave herself up with her whole
soul to the new life that was opening to her. From Varenka's
accounts of the doings of Madame Stahl and other people whom she
mentioned, Kitty had already constructed the plan of her own
future life. She would, like Madame Stahl's niece, Aline, of
whom Varenka had talked to her a great deal, seek out those who
were in trouble, wherever she might be living, help them as far
as she could, give them the Gospel, read the Gospel to the sick,
the criminals, to the dying. The idea of reading the Gospel to
criminals, as Aline did, particularly fascinated Kitty. But all
these were secret dreams, of which Kitty did not talk either to
her mother or to Varenka.
While awaiting the time for carrying out her plans on a large
scale, however, Kitty, even then at the springs, where there were
so many people ill and unhappy, readily found a chance for
practicing her new principles in imitation of Varenka.
At first the princess noticed nothing but that Kitty was much
under the influence of her engouement, as she called it, for
Madame Stahl, and still more for Varenka. She saw that Kitty did
not merely imitate Varenka in her conduct, but unconsciously
imitated her in her manner of walking, of talking, of blinking
her eyes. But later on the princess noticed that, apart from
this adoration, some kind of serious spiritual change was taking
place in her daughter.
The princess saw that in the evenings Kitty read a French
testament that Madame Stahl had given her--a thing she had never
done before; that she avoided society acquaintances and
associated with the sick people who were under Varenka's
protection, and especially one poor family, that of a sick
painter, Petrov. Kitty was unmistakably proud of playing the
part of a sister of mercy in that family. All this was well
enough, and the princess had nothing to say against it,
especially as Petrov's wife was a perfectly nice sort of woman,
and that the German princess, noticing Kitty's devotion, praised
her, calling her an angel of consolation. All this would have
been very well, if there had been no exaggeration. But the
princess saw that her daughter was rushing into extremes, and so
indeed she told her.
"Il ne faut jamais rien outrer," she said to her.
Her daughter made her no reply, only in her heart she thought
that one could not talk about exaggeration where Christianity was
concerned. What exaggeration could there be in the practice of a
doctrine wherein one was bidden to turn the other cheek when one
was smitten, and give one's cloak if one's coat were taken? But
the princess disliked this exaggeration, and disliked even more
the fact that she felt her daughter did not care to show her all
her heart. Kitty did in fact conceal her new views and feelings
from her mother. She concealed them not because she did not
respect or did not love her mother, but simply because she was
her mother. She would have revealed them to anyone sooner than
to her mother.
"How is it Anna Pavlovna's not been to see us for so long?" the
princess said one day of Madame Petrova. "I've asked her, but
she seems put out about something."
"No, I've not noticed it, maman," said Kitty, flushing hotly.
"Is it long since you went to see them?"
"We're meaning to make an expedition to the mountains tomorrow,"
"Well, you can go," answered the princess, gazing at her
daughter's embarrassed face and trying to guess the cause of her
That day Varenka came to dinner and told them that Anna Pavlovna
had changed her mind and given up the expedition for the morrow.
And the princess noticed again that Kitty reddened.
"Kitty, haven't you had some misunderstanding with the Petrovs?"
said the princess, when they were left alone. "Why has she given
up sending the children and coming to see us?"
Kitty answered that nothing had happened between them, and that
she could not tell why Anna Pavlovna seemed displeased with her.
Kitty answered perfectly truly. She did not know the reason Anna
Pavlovna had changed to her, but she guessed it. She guessed at
something which she could not tell her mother, which she did not
put into words to herself. It was one of those things which one
knows but which one can never speak of even to oneself so
terrible and shameful would it be to be mistaken.
Again and again she went over in her memory all her relations
with the family. She remembered the simple delight expressed on
the round, good-humored face of Anna Pavlovna at their meetings;
she remembered their secret confabulations about the invalid,
their plots to draw him away from the work which was forbidden
him, and to get him out-of-doors; the devotion of the youngest
boy, who used to call her "my Kitty," and would not go to bed
without her. How nice it all was! Then she recalled the thin,
terribly thin figure of Petrov, with his long neck, in his brown
coat, his scant, curly hair, his questioning blue eyes that were
so terrible to Kitty at first, and his painful attempts to seem
hearty and lively in her presence. She recalled the efforts she
had made at first to overcome the repugnance she felt for him, as
for all consumptive people, and the pains it had cost her to
think of things to say to him. She recalled the timid, softened
look with which he gazed at her, and the strange feeling of
compassion and awkwardness, and later of a sense of her own
goodness, which she had felt at it. How nice it all was! But
all that was at first. Now, a few days ago, everything was
suddenly spoiled. Anna Pavlovna had met Kitty with affected
cordiality, and had kept continual watch on her and on her
Could that touching pleasure he showed when she came near be the
cause of Anna Pavlovna's coolness?
"Yes," she mused, "there was something unnatural about Anna
Pavlovna, and utterly unlike her good nature, when she said
angrily the day before yesterday: 'There, he will keep waiting
for you; he wouldn't drink his coffee without you, though he's
grown so dreadfully weak.'"
"Yes, perhaps, too, she didn't like it when I gave him the rug.
It was all so simple, but he took it so awkwardly, and was so
long thanking me, that I felt awkward too. And then that
portrait of me he did so well. And most of all that look of
confusion and tenderness! Yes, yes, that's it!" Kitty repeated
to herself with horror. "No, it can't be, it oughtn't to be!
He's so much to be pitied!" she said to herself directly after.
This doubt poisoned the charm of her new life.
Before the end of the course of drinking the waters, Prince
Shtcherbatsky, who had gone on from Carlsbad to Baden and
Kissingen to Russian friends--to get a breath of Russian air, as
he said--came back to his wife and daughter.
The views of the prince and of the princess on life abroad were
completely opposed. The princess thought everything delightful,
and in spite of her established position in Russian society, she
tried abroad to be like a European fashionable lady, which she
was not--for the simple reason that she was a typical Russian
gentlewoman; and so she was affected, which did not altogether
suit her. The prince, on the contrary, thought everything
foreign detestable, got sick of European life, kept to his
Russian habits, and purposely tried to show himself abroad less
European than he was in reality.
The prince returned thinner, with the skin hanging in loose bags
on his cheeks, but in the most cheerful frame of mind. His
good humor was even greater when he saw Kitty completely
recovered. The news of Kitty's friendship with Madame Stahl and
Varenka, and the reports the princess gave him of some kind of
change she had noticed in Kitty, troubled the prince and aroused
his habitual feeling of jealousy of everything that drew his
daughter away from him, and a dread that his daughter might have
got out of the reach of his influence into regions inaccessible
to him. But these unpleasant matters were all drowned in the sea
of kindliness and good humor which was always within him, and
more so than ever since his course of Carlsbad waters.
The day after his arrival the prince, in his long overcoat, with
his Russian wrinkles and baggy cheeks propped up by a starched
collar, set off with his daughter to the spring in the greatest
It was a lovely morning: the bright, cheerful houses with their
little gardens, the sight of the red-faced, red-armed,
beer-drinking German waitresses, working away merrily, did the
heart good. But the nearer they got to the springs the oftener
they met sick people; and their appearance seemed more pitiable
than ever among the everyday conditions of prosperous German
life. Kitty was no longer struck by this contrast. The bright
sun, the brilliant green of the foliage, the strains of the music
were for her the natural setting of all these familiar faces,
with their changes to greater emaciation or to convalescence, for
which she watched. But to the prince the brightness and gaiety
of the June morning, and the sound of the orchestra playing a gay
waltz then in fashion, and above all, the appearance of the
healthy attendants, seemed something unseemly and monstrous, in
conjunction with these slowly moving, dying figures gathered
together from all parts of Europe. In spite of his feeling of
pride and, as it were, of the return of youth, with his favorite
daughter on his arm, he felt awkward, and almost ashamed of his
vigorous step and his sturdy, stout limbs. He felt almost like a
man not dressed in a crowd.
"Present me to your new friends," he said to his daughter,
squeezing her hand with his elbow. "I like even your horrid
Soden for making you so well again. Only it's melancholy, very
melancholy here. Who's that?"
Kitty mentioned the names of all the people they met, with some
of whom she was acquainted and some not. At the entrance of the
garden they met the blind lady, Madame Berthe, with her guide,
and the prince was delighted to see the old Frenchwoman's face
light up when she heard Kitty's voice. She at once began talking
to him with French exaggerated politeness, applauding him for
having such a delightful daughter, extolling Kitty to the skies
before her face, and calling her a treasure, a pearl, and a
"Well, she's the second angel, then," said the prince, smiling.
"she calls Mademoiselle Varenka angel number one."
"Oh! Mademoiselle Varenka, she's a real angel, allez," Madame
In the arcade they met Varenka herself. She was walking rapidly
towards them carrying an elegant red bag.
"Here is papa come," Kitty said to her.
Varenka made--simply and naturally as she did everything--a
movement between a bow and curtsey, and immediately began talking
to the prince, without shyness, naturally, as she talked to
"Of course I know you; I know you very well," the prince said
to her with a smile, in which Kitty detected with joy that her
father liked her friend. "Where are you off to in such haste?"
"Maman's here," she said, turning to Kitty. "She has not slept
all night, and the doctor advised her to go out. I'm taking her
"So that's angel number one?" said the prince when Varenka had
Kitty saw that her father had meant to make fun of Varenka, but
that he could not do it because he liked her.
"Come, so we shall see all your friends," he went on, "even
Madame Stahl, if she deigns to recognize me."
"Why, did you know her, papa?" Kitty asked apprehensively,
catching the gleam of irony that kindled in the prince's eyes at
the mention of Madame Stahl.
"I used to know her husband, and her too a little, before she'd
joined the Pietists."
"What is a Pietist, papa?" asked Kitty, dismayed to find that
what she prized so highly in Madame Stahl had a name.
"I don't quite know myself. I only know that she thanks God
for everything, for every misfortune, and thanks God too that her
husband died. And that's rather droll, as they didn't get on
"Who's that? What a piteous face!" he asked, noticing a sick man
of medium height sitting on a bench, wearing a brown overcoat and
white trousers that fell in strange folds about his long,
fleshless legs. This man lifted his straw hat, showed his scanty
curly hair and high forehead, painfully reddened by the pressure
of the hat.
"That's Petrov, an artist," answered Kitty, blushing. "And
that's his wife," she added, indicating Anna Pavlovna, who, as
though on purpose, at the very instant they approached walked
away after a child that had run off along a path.
"Poor fellow! and what a nice face he has!" said the prince.
"Why don't you go up to him? He wanted to speak to you."
"Well, let us go, then," said Kitty, turning round resolutely.
"How are you feeling today?" she asked Petrov.
Petrov got up, leaning on his stick, and looked shyly at the
"This is my daughter," said the prince. "Let me introduce
The painter bowed and smiled, showing his strangely dazzling
"We expected you yesterday, princess," he said to Kitty. He
staggered as he said this, and then repeated the motion, trying
to make it seem as if it had been intentional.
"I meant to come, but Varenka said that Anna Pavlovna sent word
you were not going."
"Not going!" said Petrov, blushing, and immediately beginning to
cough, and his eyes sought his wife. "Anita! Anita!" he said
loudly, and the swollen veins stood out like cords on his thin
Anna Pavlovna came up.
"So you sent word to the princess that we weren't going!" he
whispered to her angrily, losing his voice.
"Good morning, princess," said Anna Pavlovna, with an assumed
smile utterly unlike her former manner. "Very glad to make your
acquaintance," she said to the prince. "You've long been
"What did you send word to the princess that we weren't going
for?" the artist whispered hoarsely once more, still more
angrily, obviously exasperated that his voice failed him so that
he could not give his words the expression he would have liked
"Oh, mercy on us! I thought we weren't going," his wife answered
"What, when...." He coughed and waved his hand. The prince took
off his hat and moved away with his daughter.
"Ah! ah!" he sighed deeply. "Oh, poor things!"
"Yes, papa," answered Kitty. "And you must know they've three
children, no servant, and scarcely any means. He gets something
from the Academy," she went on briskly, trying to drown the
distress that the queer change in Anna Pavlovna's manner to her
had aroused in her.
"Oh, here's Madame Stahl," said Kitty, indicating an invalid
carriage, where, propped on pillows, something in gray and blue
was lying under a sunshade. This was Madame Stahl. Behind her
stood the gloomy, healthy-looking German workman who pushed the
carriage. Close by was standing a flaxen-headed Swedish count,
whom Kitty knew by name. Several invalids were lingering near
the low carriage, staring at the lady as though she were some
The prince went up to her, and Kitty detected that disconcerting
gleam of irony in his eyes. He went up to Madame Stahl, and
addressed her with extreme courtesy and affability in that
excellent French that so few speak nowadays.
"I don't know if you remember me, but I must recall myself to
thank you for your kindness to my daughter," he said, taking off
his hat and not putting it on again.
"Prince Alexander Shtcherbatsky," said Madame Stahl, lifting upon
him her heavenly eyes, in which Kitty discerned a look of
annoyance. "Delighted! I have taken a great fancy to your
"You are still in weak health?"
"Yes; I'm used to it," said Madame Stahl, and she introduced the
prince to the Swedish count.
"You are scarcely changed at all," the prince said to her. "It's
ten or eleven years since I had the honor of seeing you."
"Yes; God sends the cross and sends the strength to bear it.
Often one wonders what is the goal of this life?... The other
side!" she said angrily to Varenka, who had rearranged the rug
over her feet not to her satisfaction.
"To do good, probably," said the prince with a twinkle in his
"That is not for us to judge," said Madame Stahl, perceiving the
shade of expression on the prince's face. "So you will send me
that book, dear count? I'm very grateful to you," she said to
the young Swede.
"Ah!" cried the prince, catching sight of the Moscow colonel
standing near, and with a bow to Madame Stahl he walked away with
his daughter and the Moscow colonel, who joined them.
"That's our aristocracy, prince!" the Moscow colonel said with
ironical intention. He cherished a grudge against Madame Stahl
for not making his acquaintance.
"She's just the same," replied the prince.
"Did you know her before her illness, prince--that's to say
before she took to her bed?"
"Yes. She took to her bed before my eyes," said the prince.
"They say it's ten years since she has stood on her feet."
"She doesn't stand up because her legs are too short. She's a
very bad figure."
"Papa, it's not possible!" cried Kitty.
"That's what wicked tongues say, my darling. And your Varenka
catches it too," he added. "Oh, these invalid ladies!"
"Oh, no, papa!" Kitty objected warmly. "Varenka worships her.
And then she does so much good! Ask anyone! Everyone knows her
and Aline Stahl."
"Perhaps so," said the prince, squeezing her hand with his elbow;
"but it's better when one does good so that you may ask everyone
and no one knows."
Kitty did not answer, not because she had nothing to say, but
because she did not care to reveal her secret thoughts even to
her father. But, strange to say, although she had so made up her
mind not to be influenced by her father's views, not to let him
into her inmost sanctuary, she felt that the heavenly image of
Madame Stahl, which she had carried for a whole month in her
heart, had vanished, never to return, just as the fantastic
figure made up of some clothes thrown down at random vanishes
when one sees that it is only some garment lying there. All that
was left was a woman with short legs, who lay down because she
had a bad figure, and worried patient Varenka for not arranging
her rug to her liking. And by no effort of the imagination could
Kitty bring back the former Madame Stahl.
The prince communicated his good humor to his own family and his
friends, and even to the German landlord in whose rooms the
Shtcherbatskys were staying.
On coming back with Kitty from the springs, the prince, who had
asked the colonel, and Marya Yevgenyevna, and Varenka all to come
and have coffee with them, gave orders for a table and chairs to
be taken into the garden under the chestnut tree, and lunch to be
laid there. The landlord and the servants, too, grew brisker
under the influence of his good spirits. They knew his
open-handedness; and half an hour later the invalid doctor from
Hamburg, who lived on the top floor, looked enviously out of the
window at the merry party of healthy Russians assembled under the
chestnut tree. In the trembling circles of shadow cast by the
leaves, at a table, covered with a white cloth, and set with
coffeepot, bread-and-butter, cheese, and cold game, sat the
princess in a high cap with lilac ribbons, distributing cups and
bread-and-butter. At the other end sat the prince, eating
heartily, and talking loudly and merrily. The prince had spread
out near him his purchases, carved boxes, and knick-knacks,
paper-knives of all sorts, of which he bought a heap at every
watering-place, and bestowed them upon everyone, including
Lieschen, the servant girl, and the landlord, with whom he jested
in his comically bad German, assuring him that it was not the
water had cured Kitty, but his splendid cookery, especially his
plum soup. The princess laughed at her husband for his Russian
ways, but she was more lively and good-humored than she had been
all the while she had been at the waters. The colonel smiled, as
he always did, at the prince's jokes, but as far as regards
Europe, of which he believed himself to be making a careful
study, he took the princess's side. The simple-hearted Marya
Yevgenyevna simply roared with laughter at everything absurd the
prince said, and his jokes made Varenka helpless with feeble but
infectious laughter, which was something Kitty had never seen
Kitty was glad of all this, but she could not be light-hearted.
she could not solve the problem her father had unconsciously set
her by his goodhumored view of her friends, and of the life that
had so attracted her. To this doubt there was joined the change
in her relations with the Petrovs, which had been so
conspicuously and unpleasantly marked that morning. Everyone was
good humored, but Kitty could not feel good humored, and this
increased her distress. She felt a feeling such as she had known
in childhood, when she had been shut in her room as a punishment,
and had heard her sisters' merry laughter outside.
"Well, but what did you buy this mass of things for?" said the
princess, smiling, and handing her husband a cup of coffee.
"One goes for a walk, one looks in a shop, and they ask you to
buy. 'Erlaucht, Durchlaucht?' Directly they say 'Durchlaucht,'
I can't hold out. I lose ten thalers."
"It's simply from boredom," said the princess.
"Of course it is. Such boredom, my dear, that one doesn't know
what to do with oneself."
"How can you be bored, prince? There's so much that's interesting
now in Germany," said Marya Yevgenyevna.
"But I know everything that's interesting: the plum soup I know,
and the pea sausages I know. I know everything."
"No, you may say what you like, prince, there's the interest of
their institutions," said the colonel.
"But what is there interesting about it? They're all as pleased
as brass halfpence. They've conquered everybody, and why am I
to be pleased at that? I haven't conquered anyone; and I'm
obliged to take off my own boots, yes, and put them away too; in
the morning, get up and dress at once, and go to the dining room
to drink bad tea! How different it is at home! You get up in no
haste, you get cross, grumble a little, and come round again.
You've time to think things over, and no hurry."
"But time's money, you forget that," said the colonel.
"Time, indeed, that depends! Why, there's time one would give a
month of for sixpence, and time you wouldn't give half an hour of
for any money. Isn't that so, Katinka? What is it? why are you
"I'm not depressed."
"Where are you off to? Stay a little longer," he said to
"I must be going home," said Varenka, getting up, and again she
went off into a giggle. When she had recovered, she said
good-bye, and went into the house to get her hat.
Kitty followed her. Even Varenka struck her as different. She
was not worse, but different from what she had fancied her
"Oh, dear! it's a long while since I've laughed so much!" said
Varenka, gathering up her parasol and her bag. "How nice he is,
Kitty did not speak.
"When shall I see you again?" asked Varenka.
"Mamma meant to go and see the Petrovs. Won't you be there?"
said Kitty, to try Varenka.
"Yes," answered Varenka. "They're getting ready to go away, so
I promised to help them pack."
"Well, I'll come too, then."
"No, why should you?"
"Why not? why not? why not?" said Kitty, opening her eyes wide,
and clutching at Varenka's parasol, so as not to let her go.
"No, wait a minute; why not?"
"Oh, nothing; your father has come, and besides, they will feel
awkward at your helping."
"No, tell me why you don't want me to be often at the Petrovs'.
You don't want me to--why not?"
"I didn't say that," said Varenka quietly.
"No, please tell me!"
"Tell you everything?" asked Varenka.
"Everything, everything!" Kitty assented.
"Well, there's really nothing of any consequence; only that
Mihail Alexeyevitch" (that was the artist's name) "had meant to
leave earlier, and now he doesn't want to go away," said Varenka,
"Well, well!" Kitty urged impatiently, looking darkly at Varenka.
"Well, and for some reason Anna Pavlovna told him that he didn't
want to go because you are here. Of course, that was nonsense;
but there was a dispute over it--over you. You know how
irritable these sick people are."
Kitty, scowling more than ever, kept silent, and Varenka went on
speaking alone, trying to soften or soothe her, and seeing a
storm coming--she did not know whether of tears or of words.
"So you'd better not go.... You understand; you won't be
"And it serves me right! And it serves me right!" Kitty cried
quickly, snatching the parasol out of Varenka's hand, and looking
past her friend's face.
Varenka felt inclined to smile, looking at her childish fury, but
she was afraid of wounding her.
"How does it serve you right? I don't understand," she said.
"It serves me right, because it was all sham; because it was all
done on purpose, and not from the heart. What business had I to
interfere with outsiders? And so it's come about that I'm a
cause of quarrel, and that I've done what nobody asked me to do.
Because it was all a sham! a sham! a sham! . . ."
"A sham! with what object?" said Varenka gently.
"Oh, it's so idiotic! so hateful! There was no need whatever for
me.... Nothing but sham!" she said, opening and shutting the
"But with what object?"
"To seem better to people, to myself, to God; to deceive
everyone. No! now I won't descend to that. I'll be bad; but
anyway not a liar, a cheat."
"But who is a cheat?" said Varenka reproachfully. "You speak as
But Kitty was in one of her gusts of fury, and she would not let
"I don't talk about you, not about you at all. You're
perfection. Yes, yes, I know you're all perfection; but what am
I to do if I'm bad? This would never have been if I weren't bad.
So let me be what I am. I won't be a sham. What have I to do
with Anna Pavlovna? Let them go their way, and me go mine. I
can't be different.... And yet it's not that, it's not that."
"What is not that?" asked Varenka in bewilderment.
"Everything. I can't act except from the heart, and you act
from principle. I liked you simply, but you most likely only
wanted to save me, to improve me."
"You are unjust," said Varenka.
"But I'm not speaking of other people, I'm speaking of myself."
"Kitty," they heard her mother's voice, "come here, show papa
Kitty, with a haughty air, without making peace with her friend,
took the necklace in a little box from the table and went to her
"What's the matter? Why are you so red?" her mother and father
said to her with one voice.
"Nothing," she answered. "I'll be back directly," and she ran
"She's still here," she thought. "What am I to say to her? Oh,
dear! what have I done, what have I said? Why was I rude to
her? What am I to do? What am I to say to her?" thought Kitty,
and she stopped in the doorway.
Varenka in her hat and with the parasol in her hands was sitting
at the table examining the spring which Kitty had broken. She
lifted her head.
"Varenka, forgive me, do forgive me," whispered Kitty, going up
to her. "I don't remember what I said. I..."
"I really didn't mean to hurt you," said Varenka, smiling.
Peace was made. But with her father's coming all the world in
which she had been living was transformed for Kitty. She did not
give up everything she had learned, but she became aware that she
had deceived herself in supposing she could be what she wanted to
be. Her eyes were, it seemed, opened; she felt all the
difficulty of maintaining herself without hypocrisy and
self-conceit on the pinnacle to which she had wished to mount.
Moreover, she became aware of all the dreariness of the world of
sorrow, of sick and dying people, in which she had been living.
The efforts she had made to like it seemed to her intolerable,
and she felt a longing to get back quickly into the fresh air, to
Russia, to Ergushovo, where, as she knew from letters, her sister
Dolly had already gone with her children.
But her affection for Varenka did not wane. As she said
good-bye, Kitty begged her to come to them in Russia.
"I'll come when you get married," said Varenka.
"I shall never marry."
"Well, then, I shall never come."
"Well, then, I shall be married simply for that. Mind now,
remember your promise," said Kitty.
The doctor's prediction was fulfilled. Kitty returned home to
Russia cured. She was not so gay and thoughtless as before, but
she was serene. Her Moscow troubles had become a memory to her.
Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev wanted a rest from mental work, and
instead of going abroad as he usually did, he came towards the
end of May to stay in the country with his brother. In his
judgment the best sort of life was a country life. He had come
now to enjoy such a life at his brother's. Konstantin Levin was
very glad to have him, especially as he did not expect his
brother Nikolay that summer. But in spite of his affection and
respect for Sergey Ivanovitch, Konstantin Levin was uncomfortable
with his brother in the country. It made him uncomfortable, and
it positively annoyed him to see his brother's attitude to the
country. To Konstantin Levin the country was the background of
life, that is of pleasures, endeavors, labor. To Sergey
Ivanovitch the country meant on one hand rest from work, on the
other a valuable antidote to the corrupt influences of town,
which he took with satisfaction and a sense of its utility. To
Konstantin Levin the country was good first because it afforded a
field for labor, of the usefulness of which there could be no
doubt. To Sergey Ivanovitch the country was particularly good,
because there it was possible and fitting to do nothing.
Moreover, Sergey Ivanovitch's attitude to the peasants rather
piqued Konstantin. Sergey Ivanovitch used to say that he knew
and liked the peasantry, and he often talked to the peasants,
which he knew how to do without affectation or condescension, and
from every such conversation he would deduce general conclusions
in favor of the peasantry and in confirmation of his knowing
them. Konstantin Levin did not like such an attitude to the
peasants. To Konstantin the peasant was simply the chief partner
in their common labor, and in spite of all the respect and the
love, almost like that of kinship, he had for the peasant--
sucked in probably, as he said himself, with the milk of his
peasant nurse--still as a fellow-worker with him, while
sometimes enthusiastic over the vigor, gentleness, and justice of
these men, he was very often, when their common labors called for
other qualities, exasperated with the peasant for his
carelessness, lack of method, drunkenness, and lying. If he had
been asked whether he liked or didn't like the peasants,
Konstantin Levin would have been absolutely at a loss what to
reply. He liked and did not like the peasants, just as he liked
and did not like men in general. Of course, being a good-hearted
man, he liked men rather than he disliked them, and so too with
the peasants. But like or dislike "the people" as something
apart he could not, not only because he lived with "the people,"
and all his interests were bound up with theirs, but also because
he regarded himself as a part of "the people," did not see any
special qualities or failings distinguishing himself and "the
people," and could not contrast himself with them. Moreover,
although he had lived so long in the closest relations with the
peasants, as farmer and arbitrator, and what was more, as adviser
(the peasants trusted him, and for thirty miles round they would
come to ask his advice), he had no definite views of "the
people," and would have been as much at a loss to answer the
question whether he knew "the people" as the question whether he
liked them. For him to say he knew the peasantry would have been
the same as to say he knew men. He was continually watching and
getting to know people of all sorts, and among them peasants,
whom he regarded as good and interesting people, and he was
continually observing new points in them, altering his former
views of them and forming new ones. With Sergey Ivanovitch it
was quite the contrary. Just as he liked and praised a country
life in comparison with the life he did not like, so too he liked
the peasantry in contradistinction to the class of men he did not
like, and so too he knew the peasantry as something distinct from
and opposed to men generally. In his methodical brain there were
distinctly formulated certain aspects of peasant life, deduced
partly from that life itself, but chiefly from contrast with
other modes of life. He never changed his opinion of the
peasantry and his sympathetic attitude towards them.
In the discussions that arose between the brothers on their views
of the peasantry, Sergey Ivanovitch always got the better of his
brother, precisely because Sergey Ivanovitch had definite ideas
about the peasant--his character, his qualities, and his tastes.
Konstantin Levin had no definite and unalterable idea on the
subject, and so in their arguments Konstantin was readily
convicted of contradicting himself.
I Sergey Ivanovitch's eyes his younger brother was a capital
fellow, with his heart in the right place (as he expressed it in
French), but with a mind which, though fairly quick, was too much
influenced by the impressions of the moment, and consequently
filled with contradictions. With all the condescension of an
elder brother he sometimes explained to him the true import of
things, but he derived little satisfaction from arguing with him
because he got the better of him too easily.
Konstantin Levin regarded his brother as a man of immense
intellect and culture, as generous in the highest sense of the
word, and possessed of a special faculty for working for the
public good. But in the depths of his heart, the older he
became, and the more intimately he knew his brother, the more and
more frequently the thought struck him that this faculty of
working for the public good, of which he felt himself utterly
devoid, was possibly not so much a quality as a lack of something
--not a lack of good, honest, noble desires and tastes, but a
lack of vital force, of what is called heart, of that impulse
which drives a man to choose someone out of the innumerable
paths of life, and to care only for that one. The better he knew
his brother, the more he noticed that Sergey Ivanovitch, and many
other people who worked for the public welfare, were not led by
an impulse of the heart to care for the public good, but reasoned
from intellectual considerations that it was a right thing to
take interest in public affairs, and consequently took interest
in them. Levin was confirmed in this generalization by observing
that his brother did not take questions affecting the public
welfare or the question of the immortality of the soul a bit more
to heart than he did chess problems, or the ingenious
construction of a new machine.
Besides this, Konstantin Levin was not at his ease with his
brother, because in summer in the country Levin was continually
busy with work on the land, and the long summer day was not long
enough for him to get through all he had to do, while Sergey
Ivanovitch was taking a holiday. But though he was taking a
holiday now, that is to say, he was doing no writing, he was so
used to intellectual activity that he liked to put into concise
and eloquent shape the ideas that occurred to him, and liked to
have someone to listen to him. His most usual and natural
listener was his brother. And so in spite of the friendliness
and directness of their relations, Konstantin felt an awkwardness
in leaving him alone. Sergey Ivanovitch liked to stretch himself
on the grass in the sun, and to lie so, basking and chatting
"You wouldn't believe," he would say to his brother, "what a
pleasure this rural laziness is to me. Not an idea in one's
brain, as empty as a drum!"
But Konstantin Levin found it dull sitting and listening to him,
especially when he knew that while he was away they would be
carting dung onto the fields not ploughed ready for it, and
heaping it all up anyhow; and would not screw the shares in the
ploughs, but would let them come off and then say that the new
ploughs were a silly invention, and there was nothing like the
old Andreevna plough, and so on.
"Come, you've done enough trudging about in the heat," Sergey
Ivanovitch would say to him.
"No, I must just run round to the counting-house for a minute,"
Levin would answer, and he would run off to the fields.
Early in June it happened that Agafea Mihalovna, the old nurse
and housekeeper, in carrying to the cellar a jar of mushrooms she
had just pickled, slipped, fell, and sprained her wrist. The
district doctor, a talkative young medical student, who had just
finished his studies, came to see her. He examined the wrist,
said it was not broken, was delighted at a chance of talking to
the celebrated Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev, and to show his
advanced views of things told him all the scandal of the
district, complaining of the poor state into which the district
council had fallen. Sergey Ivanovitch listened attentively,
asked him questions, and, roused by a new listener, he talked
fluently, uttered a few keen and weighty observations,
respectfully appreciated by the young doctor, and was soon in
that eager frame of mind his brother knew so well, which always,
with him, followed a brilliant and eager conversation. After the
departure of the doctor, he wanted to go with a fishing rod to
the river. Sergey Ivanovitch was fond of angling, and was, it
seemed, proud of being able to care for such a stupid occupation.
Konstantin Levin, whose presence was needed in the plough land
and meadows, had come to take his brother in the trap.
It was that time of the year, the turning-point of summer, when
the crops of the present year are a certainty, when one begins to
think of the sowing for next year, and the mowing is at hand;
when the rye is all in ear, though its ears are still light, not
yet full, and it waves in gray-green billows in the wind; when
the green oats, with tufts of yellow grass scattered here and
there among it, droop irregularly over the late-sown fields; when
the early buckwheat is already out and hiding the ground; when
the fallow lands, trodden hard as stone by the cattle, are
half ploughed over, with paths left untouched by the plough; when
from the dry dung-heaps carted onto the fields there comes at
sunset a smell of manure mixed with meadow-sweet, and on the
low-lying lands the riverside meadows are a thick sea of grass
waiting for the mowing, with blackened heaps of the stalks of
sorrel among it.
It was the time when there comes a brief pause in the toil of the
fields before the beginning of the labors of harvest--every year
recurring, every year straining every nerve of the peasants. The
crop was a splendid one, and bright, hot summer days had set in
with short, dewy nights.
The brothers had to drive through the woods to reach the meadows.
Sergey Ivanovitch was all the while admiring the beauty of the
woods, which were a tangled mass of leaves, pointing out to his
brother now an old lime tree on the point of flowering, dark on
the shady side, and brightly spotted with yellow stipules, now
the young shoots of this year's saplings brilliant with emerald.
Konstantin Levin did not like talking and hearing about the
beauty of nature. Words for him took away the beauty of what he
saw. He assented to what his brother said, but he could not help
beginning to think of other things. When they came out of the
woods, all his attention was engrossed by the view of the
fallow land on the upland, in parts yellow with grass, in parts
trampled and checkered with furrows, in parts dotted with ridges
of dung, and in parts even ploughed. A string of carts was
moving across it. Levin counted the carts, and was pleased that
all that were wanted had been brought, and at the sight of the
meadows his thoughts passed to the mowing. He always felt
something special moving him to the quick at the hay-making. On
reaching the meadow Levin stopped the horse.
The morning dew was still lying on the thick undergrowth of the
grass, and that he might not get his feet wet, Sergey Ivanovitch
asked his brother to drive him in the trap up to the willow tree
from which the carp was caught. Sorry as Konstantin Levin was to
crush down his mowing grass, he drove him into the meadow. The
high grass softly turned about the wheels and the horse's legs,
leaving its seeds clinging to the wet axles and spokes of the
wheels. His brother seated himself under a bush, arranging his
tackle, while Levin led the horse away, fastened him up, and
walked into the vast gray-green sea of grass unstirred by the
wind. The silky grass with its ripe seeds came almost to his
waist in the dampest spots.
Crossing the meadow, Konstantin Levin came out onto the road, and
met an old man with a swollen eye, carrying a skep on his
"What? taken a stray swarm, Fomitch?" he asked.
"No, indeed, Konstantin Mitritch! All we can do to keep our own!
This is the second swarm that has flown away.... Luckily the
lads caught them. They were ploughing your field. They unyoked
the horses and galloped after them."
"Well, what do you say, Fomitch--start mowing or wait a bit?"
"Eh, well. Our way's to wait till St. Peter's Day. But you
always mow sooner. Well, to be sure, please God, the hay's good.
There'll be plenty for the beasts."
"What do you think about the weather?"
"That's in God's hands. Maybe it will be fine."
Levin went up to his brother.
Sergey Ivanovitch had caught nothing, but he was not bored, and
seemed in the most cheerful frame of mind. Levin saw that,
stimulated by his conversation with the doctor, he wanted to
talk. Levin, on the other hand, would have liked to get home as
soon as possible to give orders about getting together the mowers
for next day, and to set at rest his doubts about the mowing,
which greatly absorbed him.
"Well, let's be going," he said.
"Why be in such a hurry? Let's stay a little. But how wet you
are! Even though one catches nothing, it's nice. That's the
best thing about every part of sport, that one has to do with
nature. How exquisite this steely water is!" said Sergey
Ivanovitch. "These riverside banks always remind me of the
riddle--do you know it? 'The grass says to the water: we
quiver and we quiver.'"
"I don't know the riddle," answered Levin wearily.
"Do you know I've been thinking about you," said Sergey
Ivanovitch. "It's beyond everything what's being done in the
district, according to what this doctor tells me. He's a very
intelligent fellow. And as I've told you before, I tell you
again: it's not right for you not to go to the meetings, and
altogether to keep out of the district business. If decent
people won't go into it, of course it's bound to go all wrong.
We pay the money, and it all goes in salaries, and there are no
schools, nor district nurses, nor midwives, nor drugstores--
"Well, I did try, you know," Levin said slowly and unwillingly.
"I can't! and so there's no help for it."
"But why can't you? I must own I can't make it out.
Idifference, incapacity--I won't admit; surely it's not simply
"None of those things. I've tried, and I see I can do nothing,"
He had hardly grasped what his brother was saying. Looking
towards the plough land across the river, he made out something
black, but he could not distinguish whether it was a horse or the
bailiff on horseback.
"Why is it you can do nothing? You made an attempt and didn't
succeed, as you think, and you give in. How can you have so
"Self-respect!" said Levin, stung to the quick by his brother's
words; "I don't understand. If they'd told me at college that
other people understood the integral calculus, and I didn't,
then pride would have come in. But in this case one wants first
to be convinced that one has certain qualifications for this sort
of business, and especially that all this business is of great
"What! do you mean to say it's not of importance?" said Sergey
Ivanovitch, stung to the quick too at his brother's considering
anything of no importance that interested him, and still more at
his obviously paying little attention to what he was saying.
"I don't think it important; it does not take hold of me, I
can't help it," answered Levin, making out that what he saw was
the bailiff, and that the bailiff seemed to be letting the
peasants go off the ploughed land. They were turning the plough
over. "Can they have finished ploughing?" he wondered.
"Come, really though," said the elder brother, with a frown on
his handsome, clever face, "there's a limit to everything. It's
very well to be original and genuine, and to dislike everything
conventional--I know all about that; but really, what you're
saying either has no meaning, or it has a very wrong meaning.
How can you think it a matter of no importance whether the
peasant, whom you love as you assert..."
"I never did assert it," thought Konstantin Levin.
"...dies without help? The ignorant peasant-women starve the
children, and the people stagnate in darkness, and are helpless
in the hands of every village clerk, while you have at your
disposal a means of helping them, and don't help them because to
your mind it's of no importance."
And Sergey Ivanovitch put before him the alternative: either you
are so undeveloped that you can't see all that you can do, or you
won't sacrifice your ease, your vanity, or whatever it is, to do
Konstantin Levin felt that there was no course open to him but to
submit, or to confess to a lack of zeal for the public good. And
this mortified him and hurt his feelings.
"It's both," he said resolutely: "I don't see that it was
"What! was it impossible, if the money were properly laid out, to
provide medical aid?"
"Impossible, as it seems to me.... For the three thousand square
miles of our district, what with our thaws, and the storms, and
the work in the fields, I don't see how it is possible to
provide medical aid all over. And besides, I don't believe in
"Oh, well, that's unfair...I can quote to you thousands of
instances.... But the schools, anyway."
"Why have schools?"
"What do you mean? Can there be two opinions of the advantage of
education? If it's a good thing for you, it's a good thing for
Konstantin Levin felt himself morally pinned against a wall, and
so he got hot, and unconsciously blurted out the chief cause of
his indifference to public business.
"Perhaps it may all be very good; but why should I worry myself
about establishing dispensaries which I shall never make use of,
and schools to which I shall never send my children, to which
even the peasants don't want to send their children, and to which
I've no very firm faith that they ought to send them?" said he.
Sergey Ivanovitch was for a minute surprised at this unexpected
view of the subject; but he promptly made a new plan of attack.
He was silent for a little, drew out a hook, threw it in again,
and turned to his brother smiling.
"Come, now.... In the first place, the dispensary is needed. We
ourselves sent for the district doctor for Agafea Mihalovna."
"Oh, well, but I fancy her wrist will never be straight again."
"That remains to be proved.... Next, the peasant who can read
and write is as a workman of more use and value to you."
"No, you can ask anyone you like," Konstantin Levin answered
with decision, "the man that can read and write is much inferior
as a workman. And mending the highroads is an impossibility; and
as soon as they put up bridges they're stolen."
"Still, that's not the point," said Sergey Ivanovitch, frowning.
He disliked contradiction, and still more, arguments that were
continually skipping from one thing to another, introducing new
and disconnected points, so that there was no knowing to which to
reply. "Do you admit that education is a benefit for the
"Yes, I admit it," said Levin without thinking, and he was
conscious immediately that he had said what he did not think. He
felt that if he admitted that, it would be proved that he had
been talking meaningless rubbish. How it would be proved he
could not tell, but he knew that this would inevitably be
logically proved to him, and he awaited the proofs.
The argument turned out to be far simpler than he had expected.
"If you admit that it is a benefit," said Sergey Ivanovitch,
"then, as an honest man, you cannot help caring about it and
sympathizing with the movement, and so wishing to work for it."
"But I still do not admit this movement to be just," said
Konstantin Levin, reddening a little.
"What! But you said just now..."
"That's to say, I don't admit it's being either good or
"That you can't tell without making the trial."
"Well, supposing that's so," said Levin, though he did not
suppose so at all, "supposing that is so, still I don't see, all
the same, what I'm to worry myself about it for."
"No; since we are talking, explain it to me from the
philosophical point of view," said Levin.
"I can't see where philosophy comes in," said Sergey Ivanovitch,
in a tone, Levin fancied, as though he did not admit his
brother's right to talk about philosophy. And that irritated
"I'll tell you, then," he said with heat, "I imagine the
mainspring of all our actions is, after all, self-interest. Now
in the local institutions I, as a nobleman, see nothing that
could conduce to my prosperity, and the roads are not better and
could not be better; my horses carry me well enough over bad
ones. Doctors and dispensaries are no use to me. An arbitrator
of disputes is no use to me. I never appeal to him, and never
shall appeal to him. The schools are no good to me, but
positively harmful, as I told you. For me the district
institutions simply mean the liability to pay fourpence halfpenny
for every three acres, to drive into the town, sleep with bugs,
and listen to all sorts of idiocy and loathsomeness, and
self-interest offers me no inducement."
"Excuse me," Sergey Ivanovitch interposed with a smile,
"self-interest did not induce us to work for the emancipation of
the serfs, but we did work for it."
"No!" Konstantin Levin broke in with still greater heat; "the
emancipation of the serfs was a different matter. There
self-interest did come in. One longed to throw off that yoke
that crushed us, all decent people among us. But to be a
town councilor and discuss how many dustmen are needed, and how
chimneys shall be constructed in the town in which I don't
live--to serve on a jury and try a peasant who's stolen a flitch
of bacon, and listen for six hours at a stretch to all sorts of
jabber from the counsel for the defense and the prosecution, and
the president cross-examining my old half-witted Alioshka, 'Do
you admit, prisoner in the dock, the fact of the removal of the
Konstantin Levin had warmed to his subject, and began mimicking
the president and the half-witted Alioshka: it seemed to him that
it was all to the point.
But Sergey Ivanovitch shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, what do you mean to say, then?"
"I simply mean to say that those rights that touch me...my
interest, I shall always defend to the best of my ability; that
when they made raids on us students, and the police read our
letters, I was ready to defend those rights to the utmost, to
defend my rights to education and freedom. I can understand
compulsory military service, which affects my children, my
brothers, and myself, I am ready to deliberate on what concerns
me; but deliberating on how to spend forty thousand roubles of
district council money, or judging the half-witted Alioshka--I
don't understand, and I can't do it."
Konstantin Levin spoke as though the floodgates of his speech had
burst open. Sergey Ivanovitch smiled.
"But tomorrow it'll be your turn to be tried; would it have
suited your tastes better to be tried in the old criminal
"I'm not going to be tried. I shan't murder anybody, and I've
no need of it. Well, I tell you what," he went on, flying off
again to a subject quite beside the point, "our district
self-government and all the rest of it--it's just like the
birch branches we stick in the ground on Trinity Day, for
instance, to look like a copse which has grown up of itself in
Europe, and I can't gush over these birch branches and believe
Sergey Ivanovitch merely shrugged his shoulders, as though to
express his wonder how the birch branches had come into their
argument at that point, though he did really understand at once
what his brother meant.
"Excuse me, but you know one really can't argue in that way," he
But Konstantin Levin wanted to justify himself for the failing,
of which he was conscious, of lack of zeal for the public
welfare, and he went on.
"I imagine," he said, "that no sort of activity is likely to be
lasting if it is not founded on self-interest, that's a universal
principle, a philosophical principle," he said, repeating the
word "philosophical" with determination, as though wishing to
show that he had as much right as any one else to talk of
Sergey Ivanovitch smiled. "He too has a philosophy of his own at
the service of his natural tendencies," he thought.
"Come, you'd better let philosophy alone," he said. "The chief
problem of the philosophy of all ages consists just in finding
the indispensable connection which exists between individual and
social interests. But that's not to the point; what is to the
point is a correction I must make in your comparison. The
birches are not simply stuck in, but some are sown and some are
planted, and one must deal carefully with them. It's only those
peoples that have an intuitive sense of what's of importance and
significance in their institutions, and know how to value them,
that have a future before them--it's only those peoples that one
can truly call historical."
And Sergey Ivanovitch carried the subject into the regions of
philosophical history where Konstantin Levin could not follow
him, and showed him all the incorrectness of his view.
"As for your dislike of it, excuse my saying so, that's simply
our Russian sloth and old serf-owner's ways, and I'm convinced
that in you it's a temporary error and will pass."
Konstantin was silent. He felt himself vanquished on all sides,
but he felt at the same time that what he wanted to say was
unintelligible to his brother. Only he could not make up his
mind whether it was unintelligible because he was not capable of
expressing his meaning clearly, or because his brother would not
or could not understand him. But he did not pursue the
speculation, and without replying, he fell to musing on a quite
different and personal matter.
Sergey Ivanovitch wound up the last line, untied the horse, and
they drove off.
The personal matter that absorbed Levin during his conversation
with his brother was this. Once in a previous year he had gone
to look at the mowing, and being made very angry by the bailiff
he had recourse to his favorite means for regaining his temper,--
he took a scythe from a peasant and began mowing.
He liked the work so much that he had several times tried his
hand at mowing since. He had cut the whole of the meadow in
front of his house, and this year ever since the early spring he
had cherished a plan for mowing for whole days together with the
peasants. Ever since his brother's arrival, he had been in doubt
whether to mow or not. He was loath to leave his brother alone
all day long, and he was afraid his brother would laugh at him
about it. But as he drove into the meadow, and recalled the
sensations of mowing, he came near deciding that he would go
mowing. After the irritating discussion with his brother, he
pondered over this intention again.
"I must have physical exercise, or my temper'll certainly be
ruined," he thought, and he determined he would go mowing,
however awkward he might feel about it with his brother or the
Towards evening Konstantin Levin went to his counting house, gave
directions as to the work to be done, and sent about the village
to summon the mowers for the morrow, to cut the hay in Kalinov
meadow, the largest and best of his grass lands.
"And send my scythe, please, to Tit, for him to set it, and bring
it round tomorrow. I shall maybe do some mowing myself too," he
said trying not to be embarrassed.
The bailiff smiled and said: "Yes, sir."
At tea the same evening Levin said to his brother:
"I fancy the fine weather will last. Tomorrow I shall start
"I'm so fond of that form of field labor," said Sergey
"I'm awfully fond of it. I sometimes mow myself with the
peasants, and tomorrow I want to try mowing the whole day."
Sergey Ivanovitch lifted his head, and looked with interest at
"How do you mean? Just like one of the peasants, all day long?"
"Yes, it's very pleasant," said Levin.
"It's splendid as exercise, only you'll hardly be able to stand
it," said Sergey Ivanovitch, without a shade of irony.
"I've tried it. It's hard work at first, but you get into it.
I dare say I shall manage to keep it up..."
"Really! what an idea! But tell me, how do the peasants look at
it? I suppose they laugh in their sleeves at their master's
being such a queer fish?"
"No, I don't think so; but it's so delightful, and at the same
time such hard work, that one has no time to think about it."
"But how will you do about dining with them? To send you a
bottle of Lafitte and roast turkey out there would be a little
"No, I'll simply come home at the time of their noonday rest."
Next morning Konstantin Levin got up earlier than usual, but he
was detained giving directions on the farm, and when he reached
the mowing grass the mowers were already at their second row.
From the uplands he could get a view of the shaded cut part of
the meadow below, with its grayish ridges of cut grass, and the
black heaps of coats, taken off by the mowers at the place from
which they had started cutting.
Gradually, as he rode towards the meadow, the peasants came into
sight, some in coats, some in their shirts mowing, one behind
another in a long string, swinging their scythes differently. He
counted forty-two of them.
They were mowing slowly over the uneven, low-lying parts of the
meadow, where there had been an old dam. Levin recognized some
of his own men. Here was old Yermil in a very long white smock,
bending forward to swing a scythe; there was a young fellow,
Vaska, who had been a coachman of Levin's, taking every row with
a wide sweep. Here, too, was Tit, Levin's preceptor in the art
of mowing, a thin little peasant. He was in front of all, and
cut his wide row without bending, as though playing with the
Levin got off his mare, and fastening her up by the roadside went
to meet Tit, who took a second scythe out of a bush and gave it
"It's ready, sir; it's like a razor, cuts of itself," said Tit,
taking off his cap with a smile and giving him the scythe.
Levin took the scythe, and began trying it. As they finished
their rows, the mowers, hot and good-humored, came out into the
road one after another, and, laughing a little, greeted the
master. They all stared at him, but no one made any remark, till
a tall old man, with a wrinkled, beardless face, wearing a short
sheepskin jacket, came out into the road and accosted him.
"Look'ee now, master, once take hold of the rope there's no
letting it go!" he said, and Levin heard smothered laughter among
"I'll try not to let it go," he said, taking his stand behind
Tit, and waiting for the time to begin.
"Mind'ee," repeated the old man.
Tit made room, and Levin started behind him. The grass was short
close to the road, and Levin, who had not done any mowing for a
long while, and was disconcerted by the eyes fastened upon him,
cut badly for the first moments, though he swung his scythe
vigorously. Behind him he heard voices:
"It's not set right; handle's too high; see how he has to stoop
to it," said one.
"Press more on the heel," said another.
"Never mind, he'll get on all right," the old man resumed.
"He's made a start.... You swing it too wide, you'll tire
yourself out.... The master, sure, does his best for himself!
But see the grass missed out! For such work us fellows would
The grass became softer, and Levin, listening without answering,
followed Tit, trying to do the best he could. They moved a
hundred paces. Tit kept moving on, without stopping, not showing
the slightest weariness, but Levin was already beginning to be
afraid he would not be able to keep it up: he was so tired.
He felt as he swung his scythe that he was at the very end of his
strength, and was making up his mind to ask Tit to stop. But at
that very moment Tit stopped of his own accord, and stooping down
picked up some grass, rubbed his scythe, and began whetting it.
Levin straightened himself, and drawing a deep breath looked
round. Behind him came a peasant, and he too was evidently
tired, for he stopped at once without waiting to mow up to Levin,
and began whetting his scythe. Tit sharpened his scythe and
Levin's, and they went on. The next time it was just the same.
Tit moved on with sweep after sweep of his scythe, not stopping
or showing signs of weariness. Levin followed him, trying not to
get left behind, and he found it harder and harder: the moment
came when he felt he had no strength left, but at that very
moment Tit stopped and whetted the scythes.
So they mowed the first row. And this long row seemed
particularly hard work to Levin; but when the end was reached and
Tit, shouldering his scythe, began with deliberate stride
returning on the tracks left by his heels in the cut grass, and
Levin walked back in the same way over the space he had cut, in
spite of the sweat that ran in streams over his face and fell in
drops down his nose, and drenched his back as though he had been
soaked in water, he felt very happy. What delighted him
particularly was that now he knew he would be able to hold out.
His pleasure was only disturbed by his row not being well cut.
"I will swing less with my arm and more with my whole body," he
thought, comparing Tit's row, which looked as if it had been cut
with a line, with his own unevenly and irregularly lying grass.
The first row, as Levin noticed, Tit had mowed specially quickly,
probably wishing to put his master to the test, and the row
happened to be a long one. The next rows were easier, but still
Levin had to strain every nerve not to drop behind the peasants.
He thought of nothing, wished for nothing, but not to be left
behind the peasants, and to do his work as well as possible. He
heard nothing but the swish of scythes, and saw before him Tit's
upright figure mowing away, the crescent-shaped curve of the cut
grass, the grass and flower heads slowly and rhythmically falling
before the blade of his scythe, and ahead of him the end of the
row, where would come the rest.
Suddenly, in the midst of his toil, without understanding what it
was or whence it came, he felt a pleasant sensation of chill on
his hot, moist shoulders. He glanced at the sky in the interval
for whetting the scythes. A heavy, lowering storm cloud had
blown up, and big raindrops were falling. Some of the peasants
went to their coats and put them on; others--just like Levin
himself--merely shrugged their shoulders, enjoying the pleasant
coolness of it.
Another row, and yet another row, followed--long rows and short
rows, with good grass and with poor grass. Levin lost all sense
of time, and could not have told whether it was late or early
now. A change began to come over his work, which gave him
immense satisfaction. In the midst of his toil there were
moments during which he forgot what he was doing, and it came all
easy to him, and at those same moments his row was almost as
smooth and well cut as Tit's. But so soon as he recollected what
he was doing, and began trying to do better, he was at once
conscious of all the difficulty of his task, and the row was
On finishing yet another row he would have gone back to the top
of the meadow again to begin the next, but Tit stopped, and going
up to the old man said something in a low voice to him. They
both looked at the sun. "What are they talking about, and why
doesn't he go back?" thought Levin, not guessing that the
peasants had been mowing no less than four hours without
stopping, and it was time for their lunch.
"Lunch, sir," said the old man.
"Is it really time? That's right; lunch, then."
Levin gave his scythe to Tit, and together with the peasants, who
were crossing the long stretch of mown grass, slightly sprinkled
with rain, to get their bread from the heap of coats, he went
towards his house. Only then he suddenly awoke to the fact that
he had been wrong about the weather and the rain was drenching
"The hay will be spoiled," he said.
"Not a bit of it, sir; mow in the rain, and you'll rake in fine
weather!" said the old man.
Levin untied his horse and rode home to his coffee. Sergey
Ivanovitch was only just getting up. When he had drunk his
coffee, Levin rode back again to the mowing before Sergey
Ivanovitch had had time to dress and come down to the
After lunch Levin was not in the same place in the string of
mowers as before, but stood between the old man who had accosted
him jocosely, and now invited him to be his neighbor, and a young
peasant, who had only been married in the autumn, and who was
mowing this summer for the first time.
The old man, holding himself erect, moved in front, with his feet
turned out, taking long, regular strides, and with a precise and
regular action which seemed to cost him no more effort than
swinging one's arms in walking, as though it were in play, he
laid down the high, even row of grass. It was as though it were
not he but the sharp scythe of itself swishing through the juicy
Behind Levin came the lad Mishka. His pretty, boyish face, with
a twist of fresh grass bound round his hair, was all working with
effort; but whenever anyone looked at him he smiled. He would
clearly have died sooner than own it was hard work for him.
Levin kept between them. In the very heat of the day the mowing
did not seem such hard work to him. The perspiration with which
he was drenched cooled him, while the sun, that burned his back,
his head, and his arms, bare to the elbow, gave a vigor and
dogged energy to his labor; and more and more often now came
those moments of unconsciousness, when it was possible not to
think what one was doing. The scythe cut of itself. These were
happy moments. Still more delightful were the moments when they
reached the stream where the rows ended, and the old man rubbed
his scythe with the wet, thick grass, rinsed its blade in
the fresh water of the stream, ladled out a little in a tin
dipper, and offered Levin a drink.
"What do you say to my home-brew, eh? Good, eh?" said he,
And truly Levin had never drunk any liquor so good as this warm
water with green bits floating in it, and a taste of rust from
the tin dipper. And immediately after this came the delicious,
slow saunter, with his hand on the scythe, during which he could
wipe away the streaming sweat, take deep breaths of air, and look
about at the long string of mowers and at what was happening
around in the forest and the country.
The longer Levin mowed, the oftener he felt the moments of
unconsciousness in which it seemed not his hands that swung the
scythe, but the scythe mowing of itself, a body full of life and
consciousness of its own, and as though by magic, without
thinking of it, the work turned out regular and well-finished of
itself. These were the most blissful moments.
It was only hard work when he had to break off the motion, which
had become unconscious, and to think; when he had to mow round a
hillock or a tuft of sorrel. The old man did this easily. When
a hillock came he changed his action, and at one time with the
heel, and at another with the tip of his scythe, clipped the
hillock round both sides with short strokes. And while he did
this he kept looking about and watching what came into his view:
at one moment he picked a wild berry and ate it or offered it to
Levin, then he flung away a twig with the blade of the scythe,
then he looked at a quail's nest, from which the bird flew just
under the scythe, or caught a snake that crossed his path, and
lifting it on the scythe as though on a fork showed it to Levin
and threw it away.
For both Levin and the young peasant behind him, such changes of
position were difficult. Both of them, repeating over and over
again the same strained movement, were in a perfect frenzy of
toil, and were incapable of shifting their position and at the
same time watching what was before them.
Levin did not notice how time was passing. If he had been asked
how long he had been working he would have said half an hour--
and it was getting on for dinner time. As they were walking back
over the cut grass, the old man called Levin's attention to the
little girls and boys who were coming from different directions,
hardly visible through the long grass, and along the road towards
the mowers, carrying sacks of bread dragging at their little
hands and pitchers of the sour rye-beer, with cloths wrapped
"Look'ee, the little emmets crawling!" he said, pointing to them,
and he shaded his eyes with his hand to look at the sun. They
mowed two more rows; the old man stopped.
"Come, master, dinner time!" he said briskly. And on reaching
the stream the mowers moved off across the lines of cut grass
towards their pile of coats, where the children who had brought
their dinners were sitting waiting for them. The peasants
gathered into groups--those further away under a cart, those
nearer under a willow bush.
Levin sat down by them; he felt disinclined to go away.
All constraint with the master had disappeared long ago. The
peasants got ready for dinner. Some washed, the young lads
bathed in the stream, others made a place comfortable for a rest,
untied their sacks of bread, and uncovered the pitchers of
rye-beer. The old man crumbled up some bread in a cup, stirred
it with the handle of a spoon, poured water on it from the
dipper, broke up some more bread, and having seasoned it with
salt, he turned to the east to say his prayer.
"Come, master, taste my sop," said he, kneeling down before the
The sop was so good that Levin gave up the idea of going home.
He dined with the old man, and talked to him about his family
affairs, taking the keenest interest in them, and told him about
his own affairs and all the circumstances that could be of
interest to the old man. He felt much nearer to him than to his
brother, and could not help smiling at the affection he felt for
this man. When the old man got up again, said his prayer, and
lay down under a bush, putting some grass under his head for a
pillow, Levin did the same, and in spite of the clinging flies
that were so persistent in the sunshine, and the midges that
tickled his hot face and body, he fell asleep at once and only
waked when the sun had passed to the other side of the bush and
reached him. The old man had been awake a long while, and was
sitting up whetting the scythes of the younger lads.
Levin looked about him and hardly recognized the place,
everything was so changed. The immense stretch of meadow had
been mown and was sparkling with a peculiar fresh brilliance,
with its lines of already sweet-smelling grass in the slanting
rays of the evening sun. And the bushes about the river had been
cut down, and the river itself, not visible before, now gleaming
like steel in its bends, and the moving, ascending peasants, and
the sharp wall of grass of the unmown part of the meadow, and the
hawks hovering over the stripped meadow--all was perfectly new.
Raising himself, Levin began considering how much had been cut
and how much more could still be done that day.
The work done was exceptionally much for forty-two men. They had
cut the whole of the big meadow, which had, in the years of serf
labor, taken thirty scythes two days to mow. Only the corners
remained to do, where the rows were short. But Levin felt a
longing to get as much mowing done that day as possible, and was
vexed with the sun sinking so quickly in the sky. He felt no
weariness; all he wanted was to get his work done more and more
quickly and as much done as possible.
"Could you cut Mashkin Upland too?--what do you think?" he said
to the old man.
"As God wills, the sun's not high. A little vodka for the lads?"
At the afternoon rest, when they were sitting down again, and
those who smoked had lighted their pipes, the old man told the
men that "Mashkin Upland's to be cut--there'll be some vodka."
"Why not cut it? Come on, Tit! We'll look sharp! We can eat at
night. Come on!" cried voices, and eating up their bread, the
mowers went back to work.
"Come, lads, keep it up!" said Tit, and ran on ahead almost at a
"Get along, get along!" said the old man, hurrying after him and
easily overtaking him, "I'll mow you down, look out!"
And young and old mowed away, as though they were racing with one
another. But however fast they worked, they did not spoil the
grass, and the rows were laid just as neatly and exactly. The
little piece left uncut in the corner was mown in five minutes.
The last of the mowers were just ending their rows while the
foremost snatched up their coats onto their shoulders, and
crossed the road towards Mashkin Upland.
The sun was already sinking into the trees when they went with
their jingling dippers into the wooded ravine of Mashkin Upland.
The grass was up to their waists in the middle of the hollow,
soft, tender, and feathery, spotted here and there among the
trees with wild heart's-ease.
After a brief consultation--whether to take the rows lengthwise
or diagonally--Prohor Yermilin, also a renowned mower, a huge,
black-haired peasant, went on ahead. He went up to the top,
turned back again and started mowing, and they all proceeded to
form in line behind him, going downhill through the hollow and
uphill right up to the edge of the forest. The sun sank behind
the forest. The dew was falling by now; the mowers were in the
sun only on the hillside, but below, where a mist was rising, and
on the opposite side, they mowed into the fresh, dewy shade. The
work went rapidly. The grass cut with a juicy sound, and was at
once laid in high, fragrant rows. The mowers from all sides,
brought closer together in the short row, kept urging one another
on to the sound of jingling dipper and clanging scythes, and the
hiss of the whetstones sharpening them, and good-humored shouts.
Levin still kept between the young peasant and the old man. The
old man, who had put on his short sheepskin jacket, was just as
good-humored, jocose, and free in his movements. Among the trees
they were continually cutting with their scythes the so-called
"birch mushrooms," swollen fat in the succulent grass. But the
old man bent down every time he came across a mushroom, picked it
up and put it in his bosom. "Another present for my old woman,"
he said as he did so.
Easy as it was to mow the wet, soft grass, it was hard work going
up and down the steep sides of the ravine. But this did not
trouble the old man. Swinging his scythe just as ever, and
moving his feet in their big, plaited shoes with firm, little
steps, he climbed slowly up the steep place, and though his
breeches hanging out below his smock, and his whole frame
trembled with effort, he did not miss one blade of grass or one
mushroom on his way, and kept making jokes with the peasants and
Levin. Levin walked after him and often thought he must fall, as
he climbed with a scythe up a steep cliff where it would have
been hard work to clamber without anything. But he climbed up
and did what he had to do. He felt as though some external force
were moving him.
Mashkin Upland was mown, the last row finished, the peasants had
put on their coats and were gaily trudging home. Levin got on
his horse and, parting regretfully from the peasants, rode
homewards. On the hillside he looked back; he could not see them
in the mist that had risen from the valley; he could only hear
rough, good-humored voices, laughter, and the sound of clanking
Sergey Ivanovitch had long ago finished dinner, and was drinking
iced lemon and water in his own room, looking through the reviews
and papers which he had only just received by post, when Levin
rushed into the room, talking merrily, with his wet and matted
hair sticking to his forehead, and his back and chest grimed and
"We mowed the whole meadow! Oh, it is nice, delicious! And how
have you been getting on?" said Levin, completely forgetting the
disagreeable conversation of the previous day.
"Mercy! what do you look like!" said Sergey Ivanovitch, for the
first moment looking round with some dissatisfaction. "And the
door, do shut the door!" he cried. "You must have let in a dozen
Sergey Ivanovitch could not endure flies, and in his own room he
never opened the window except at night, and carefully kept the
"Not one, on my honor. But if I have, I'll catch them. You
wouldn't believe what a pleasure it is! How have you spent the
"Very well. But have you really been mowing the whole day? I
expect you're as hungry as a wolf. Kouzma has got everything
ready for you."
"No, I don't feel hungry even. I had something to eat there.
But I'll go and wash."
"Yes, go along, go along, and I'll come to you directly," said
Sergey Ivanovitch, shaking his head as he looked at his brother.
"Go along, make haste," he added smiling, and gathering up his
books, he prepared to go too. He, too, felt suddenly
good-humored and disinclined to leave his brother's side. "But
what did you do while it was raining?"
"Rain? Why, there was scarcely a drop. I'll come directly. So
you had a nice day too? That's first-rate." And Levin went off
to change his clothes.
Five minutes later the brothers met in the dining room. Although
it seemed to Levin that he was not hungry, and he sat down to
dinner simply so as not to hurt Kouzma's feelings, yet when he
began to eat the dinner struck him as extraordinarily good.
Sergey Ivanovitch watched him with a smile.
"Oh, by the way, there's a letter for you," said he. "Kouzma,
bring it down, please. And mind you shut the doors."
The letter was from Oblonsky. Levin read it aloud. Oblonsky
wrote to him from Petersburg: "I have had a letter from Dolly;
she's at Ergushovo, and everything seems going wrong there. Do
ride over and see her, please; help her with advice; you know all
about it. She will be so glad to see you. She's quite alone,
poor thing. My mother-in-law and all of them are still abroad."
"That's capital! I will certainly ride over to her," said Levin.
"Or we'll go together. She's such a splendid woman, isn't she?"
"They're not far from here, then?"
"Twenty-five miles. Or perhaps it is thirty. But a capital
road. Capital, we'll drive over."
"I shall be delighted," said Sergey Ivanovitch, still smiling.
The sight of his younger brother's appearance had immediately put
him in a good humor.
"Well, you have an appetite!" he said, looking at his dark-red,
sunburnt face and neck bent over the plate.
"Splendid! You can't imagine what an effectual remedy it is for
every sort of foolishness. I want to enrich medicine with a new
"Well, but you don't need it, I should fancy."
"No, but for all sorts of nervous invalids."
"Yes, it ought to be tried. I had meant to come to the mowing to
look at you, but it was so unbearably hot that I got no further
than the forest. I sat there a little, and went on by the
forest to the village, met your old nurse, and sounded her as to
the peasants' view of you. As far as I can make out, they don't
approve of this. She said: 'It's not a gentleman's work.'
Altogether, I fancy that in the people's ideas there are very
clear and definite notions of certain, as they call it,
'gentlemanly' lines of action. And they don't sanction the
gentry's moving outside bounds clearly laid down in their ideas."
"Maybe so; but anyway it's a pleasure such as I have never known
in my life. And there's no harm in it, you know. Is there?"
answered Levin. "I can't help it if they don't like it. Though
I do believe it's all right. Eh?"
"Altogether," pursued Sergey Ivanovitch, "you're satisfied with
"Quite satisfied. We cut the whole meadow. And such a splendid
old man I made friends with there! You can't fancy how
delightful he was!"
"Well, so you're content with your day. And so am I. First, I
solved two chess problems, and one a very pretty one--a pawn
opening. I'll show it you. And then--I thought over our
"Eh! our conversation yesterday?" said Levin, blissfully dropping
his eyelids and drawing deep breaths after finishing his dinner,
and absolutely incapable of recalling what their conversation
yesterday was about.
"I think you are partly right. Our difference of opinion amounts
to this, that you make the mainspring self-interest, while I
suppose that interest in the common weal is bound to exist in
every man of a certain degree of advancement. Possibly you are
right too, that action founded on material interest would be more
desirable. You are altogether, as the French say, too
primesautiere a nature; you must have intense, energetic action,
Levin listened to his brother and did not understand a single
word, and did not want to understand. He was only afraid his
brother might ask him some question which would make it evident
he had not heard.
"So that's what I think it is, my dear boy," said Sergey
Ivanovitch, touching him on the shoulder.
"Yes, of course. But, do you know? I won't stand up for my
view," answered Levin, with a guilty, childlike smile. "Whatever
was it I was disputing about?" he wondered. "Of course, I'm
right, and he's right, and it's all first-rate. Only I must go
round to the counting house and see to things." He got up,
stretching and smiling. Sergey Ivanovitch smiled too.
"If you want to go out, let's go together," he said, disinclined
to be parted from his brother, who seemed positively breathing
out freshness and energy. "Come, we'll go to the counting house,
if you have to go there."
"Oh, heavens!" shouted Levin, so loudly that Sergey Ivanovitch
was quite frightened.
"What, what is the matter?"
"How's Agafea Mihalovna's hand?" said Levin, slapping himself on
the head. "I'd positively forgotten her even."
"It's much better."
"Well, anyway I'll run down to her. Before you've time to get
your hat on, I'll be back."
And he ran downstairs, clattering with his heels like a
Stephan Arkadyevitch had gone to Petersburg to perform the most
natural and essential official duty--so familiar to everyone in
the government service, though incomprehensible to outsiders--
that duty, but for which one could hardly be in government
service, of reminding the ministry of his existence--and having,
for the due performance of this rite, taken all the available