Part 9 out of 22
"No; you laugh," said Anna, laughing too in spite of herself,
"but I never could understand it. I can't understand the
husband's role in it."
"The husband? Liza Merkalova's husband carries her shawl, and is
always ready to be of use. But anything more than that in
reality, no one cares to inquire. You know in decent society one
doesn't talk or think even of certain details of the toilet.
That's how it is with this."
"Will you be at Madame Rolandak's fete?" asked Anna, to change
"I don't think so," answered Betsy, and, without looking at her
friend, she began filling the little transparent cups with
fragrant tea. Putting a cup before Anna, she took out a
cigarette, and, fitting it into a silver holder, she lighted it.
"It's like this, you see: I'm in a fortunate position," she
began, quite serious now, as she took up her cup. "I understand
you, and I understand Liza. Liza now is one of those naive
natures that, like children, don't know what's good and what's
bad. Anyway, she didn't comprehend it when she was very young.
And now she's aware that the lack of comprehension suits her.
Now, perhaps, she doesn't know on purpose," said Betsy, with a
subtle smile. "But, anyway, it suits her. The very same thing,
don't you see, may be looked at tragically, and turned into a
misery, or it may be looked at simply and even humorously.
Possibly you are inclined to look at things too tragically."
"How I should like to know other people just as I know myself!"
said Anna, seriously and dreamily. "Am I worse than other
people, or better? I think I'm worse."
"Enfant terrible, enfant terrible!" repeated Betsy. "But here
They heard the sound of steps and a man's voice, then a woman's
voice and laughter, and immediately thereafter there walked in
the expected guests: Sappho Shtoltz, and a young man beaming with
excess of health, the so-called Vaska. It was evident that ample
supplies of beefsteak, truffles, and Burgundy never failed to
reach him at the fitting hour. Vaska bowed to the two ladies,
and glanced at them, but only for one second. He walked after
Sappho into the drawing-room, and followed her about as though he
were chained to her, keeping his sparkling eyes fixed on her as
though he wanted to eat her. Sappho Shtoltz was a blonde beauty
with black eyes. She walked with smart little steps in
high-heeled shoes, and shook hands with the ladies vigorously
like a man.
Anna had never met this new star of fashion, and was struck by
her beauty, the exaggerated extreme to which her dress was
carried, and the boldness of her manners. On her head there was
such a superstructure of soft, golden hair--her own and false
mixed--that her head was equal in size to the elegantly rounded
bust, of which so much was exposed in front. The impulsive
abruptness of her movements was such that at every step the lines
of her knees and the upper part of her legs were distinctly
marked under her dress, and the question involuntarily rose to
the mind where in the undulating, piled-up mountain of material
at the back the real body of the woman, so small and slender, so
naked in front, and so hidden behind and below, really came to an
Betsy made haste to introduce her to Anna.
"Only fancy, we all but ran over two soldiers," she began telling
them at once, using her eyes, smiling and twitching away her
tail, which she flung back at one stroke all on one side. "I
drove here with Vaska.... Ah, to be sure, you don't know each
other." And mentioning his surname she introduced the young man,
and reddening a little, broke into a ringing laugh at her
mistake--that is at her having called him Vaska to a stranger.
Vaska bowed once more to Anna, but he said nothing to her. He
addressed Sappho: "You've lost your bet. We got here first. Pay
up," said he, smiling.
Sappho laughed still more festively.
"Not just now," said she.
"Oh, all right, I'll have it later."
"Very well, very well. Oh, yes." She turned suddenly to
Princess Betsy: "I am a nice person...I positively forgot it...
I've brought you a visitor. And here he comes." The unexpected
young visitor, whom Sappho had invited, and whom she had
forgotten, was, however, a personage of such consequence that, in
spite of his youth, both the ladies rose on his entrance.
He was a new admirer of Sappho's. He now dogged her footsteps,
Soon after Prince Kaluzhsky arrived, and Liza Merkalova with
Stremov. Liza Merkalova was a thin brunette, with an Oriental,
languid type of face, and--as everyone used to say--exquisite
enigmatic eyes. The tone of her dark dress (Anna immediately
observed and appreciated the fact) was in perfect harmony with
her style of beauty. Liza was as soft and enervated as Sappho
was smart and abrupt.
But to Anna's taste Liza was far more attractive. Betsy had said
to Anna that she had adopted the pose of an innocent child, but
when Anna saw her, she felt that this was not the truth. She
really was both innocent and corrupt, but a sweet and passive
woman. It is true that her tone was the same as Sappho's; that
like Sappho, she had two men, one young and one old, tacked onto
her, and devouring her with their eyes. But there was something
in her higher than what surrounded her. There was in her the
glow of the real diamond among glass imitations. This glow shone
out in her exquisite, truly enigmatic eyes. The weary, and at
the same time passionate, glance of those eyes, encircled by dark
rings, impressed one by its perfect sincerity. Everyone looking
into those eyes fancied he knew her wholly, and knowing her,
could not but love her. At the sight of Anna, her whole face
lighted up at once with a smile of delight.
"Ah, how glad I am to see you!" she said, going up to her.
"Yesterday at the races all I wanted was to get to you, but
you'd gone away. I did so want to see you, yesterday especially.
Wasn't it awful?" she said, looking at Anna with eyes that seemed
to lay bare all her soul.
"Yes; I had no idea it would be so thrilling," said Anna,
The company got up at this moment to go into the garden.
"I'm not going," said Liza, smiling and settling herself close to
Anna. "You won't go either, will you? Who wants to play
"Oh, I like it," said Anna.
"There, how do you manage never to be bored by things? It's
delightful to look at you. You're alive, but I'm bored."
"How can you be bored? Why, you live in the liveliest set in
Petersburg," said Anna.
"Possibly the people who are not of our set are even more bored;
but we--I certainly--are not happy, but awfully, awfully
Sappho smoking a cigarette went off into the garden with the two
young men. Betsy and Stremov remained at the tea-table.
"What, bored!" said Betsy. "Sappho says they did enjoy
themselves tremendously at your house last night."
"Ah, how dreary it all was!" said Liza Merkalova. "We all drove
back to my place after the races. And always the same people,
always the same. Always the same thing. We lounged about on
sofas all the evening. What is there to enjoy in that? No; do
tell me how you manage never to be bored?" she said, addressing
Anna again. "One has but to look at you and one sees, here's a
woman who may be happy or unhappy, but isn't bored. Tell me how
you do it?"
"I do nothing," answered Anna, blushing at these searching
"That's the best way," Stremov put it. Stremov was a man of
fifty, partly gray, but still vigorous-looking, very ugly, but
with a characteristic and intelligent face. Liza Merkalova was
his wife's niece, and he spent all his leisure hours with her.
On meeting Anna Karenina, as he was Alexey Alexandrovitch's enemy
in the government, he tried, like a shrewd man and a man of the
world, to be particularly cordial with her, the wife of his
"'Nothing,'" he put in with a subtle smile, "that's the very best
way. I told you long ago," he said, turning to Liza Merkalova,
"that if you don't want to be bored, you mustn't think you're
going to be bored. It's just as you mustn't be afraid of not
being able to fall asleep, if you're afraid of sleeplessness.
That's just what Anna Arkadyevna has just said."
"I should be very glad if I had said it, for it's not only
clever but true," said Anna, smiling.
"No, do tell me why it is one can't go to sleep, and one can't
help being bored?"
"To sleep well one ought to work, and to enjoy oneself one ought
to work too."
"What am I to work for when my work is no use to anybody? And I
can't and won't knowingly make a pretense about it."
"You're incorrigible," said Stremov, not looking at her, and he
spoke again to Anna. As he rarely met Anna, he could say nothing
but commonplaces to her, but he said those commonplaces as to
when she was returning to Petersburg, and how fond Countess Lidia
Ivanovna was of her, with an expression which suggested that he
longed with his whole soul to please her and show his regard for
her and even more than that.
Tushkevitch came in, announcing that the party were awaiting the
other players to begin croquet.
"No, don't go away, please don't," pleaded Liza Merkalova,
hearing that Anna was going. Stremov joined in her entreaties.
"It's too violent a transition," he said, "to go from such
company to old Madame Vrede. And besides, you will only give her
a chance for talking scandal, while here you arouse none but such
different feelings of the highest and most opposite kind," he
said to her.
Anna pondered for an instant in uncertainty. This shrewd man's
flattering words, the naive, childlike affection shown her by
Liza Merkalova, and all the social atmosphere she was used to,--
it was all so easy, and what was in store for her was so
difficult, that she was for a minute in uncertainty whether to
remain, whether to put off a little longer the painful moment of
explanation. But remembering what was in store for her alone at
home, if she did not come to some decision, remembering that
gesture--terrible even in memory--when she had clutched her
hair in both hands--she said good-bye and went away.
In spite of Vronsky's apparently frivolous life in society, he
was a man who hated irregularity. In early youth in the Corps of
Pages, he had experienced the humiliation of a refusal, when he
had tried, being in difficulties, to borrow money, and since then
he had never once put himself in the same position again.
In order to keep his affairs in some sort of order, he used about
five times a year (more or less frequently, according to
circumstances) to shut himself up alone and put all his affairs
into definite shape. This he used to call his day of reckoning
or faire la lessive.
On waking up the day after the races, Vronsky put on a white
linen coat, and without shaving or taking his bath, he
distributed about the table moneys, bills, and letters, and set
to work. Petritsky, who knew he was ill-tempered on such
occasions, on waking up and seeing his comrade at the
writing-table, quietly dressed and went out without getting in
Every man who knows to the minutest details all the complexity of
the conditions surrounding him, cannot help imagining that the
complexity of these conditions, and the difficulty of making them
clear, is something exceptional and personal, peculiar to
himself, and never supposes that others are surrounded by just as
complicated an array of personal affairs as he is. So indeed it
seemed to Vronsky. And not with out inward pride, and not
without reason, he thought that any other man would long ago have
been in difficulties, would have been forced to some dishonorable
course, if he had found himself in such a difficult position.
But Vronsky felt that now especially it was essential for him to
clear up and define his position if he were to avoid getting into
What Vronsky attacked first as being the easiest was his
pecuniary position. Writing out on note paper in his minute hand
all that he owed, he added up the amount and found that his debts
amounted to seventeen thousand and some odd hundreds, which he
left out for the sake of clearness. Reckoning up his money and
his bank book, he found that he had left one thousand eight
hundred roubles, and nothing coming in before the New Year.
Reckoning over again his list of debts, Vronsky copied it,
dividing it into three classes. In the first class he put the
debts which he would have to pay at once, or for which he must in
any case have the money ready so that on demand for payment there
could not be a moment's delay in paying. Such debts amounted to
about four thousand: one thousand five hundred for a horse, and
two thousand five hundred as surety for a young comrade,
Venovsky, who had lost that sum to a cardsharper in Vronsky's
presence. Vronsky had wanted to pay the money at the time (he
had that amount then), but Venovsky and Yashvin had insisted that
they would pay and not Vronsky, who had not played. That was so
far well, but Vronsky knew that in this dirty business, though
his only share in it was undertaking by word of mouth to be
surety for Venovsky, it was absolutely necessary for him to have
the two thousand five hundred roubles so as to be able to fling
it at the swindler, and have no more words with him. And so for
this first and most important division he must have four thousand
roubles. The second class--eight thousand roubles--consisted
of less important debts. These were principally accounts owing
in connection with his race horses, to the purveyor of oats and
hay, the English saddler, and so on. He would have to pay some
two thousand roubles on these debts too, in order to be quite
free from anxiety. The last class of debts--to shops, to
hotels, to his tailor--were such as need not be considered. So
that he needed at least six thousand roubles for current
expenses, and he only had one thousand eight hundred. For a man
with one hundred thousand roubles of revenue, which was what
everyone fixed as Vronsky's income, such debts, one would
suppose, could hardly be embarrassing; but the fact was that he
was far from having one hundred thousand. His father's immense
property, which alone yielded a yearly income of two hundred
thousand, was left undivided between the brothers. At the time
when the elder brother, with a mass of debts, married Princess
Varya Tchirkova, the daughter of a Decembrist without any fortune
whatever, Alexey had given up to his elder brother almost the
whole income from his father's estate, reserving for himself only
twenty-five thousand a year from it. Alexey had said at the time
to his brother that that sum would be sufficient for him until he
married, which he probably never would do. And his brother, who
was in command of one of the most expensive regiments, and was
only just married, could not decline the gift. His mother, who
had her own separate property, had allowed Alexey every year
twenty thousand in addition to the twenty-five thousand he had
reserved, and Alexey had spent it all. Of late his mother,
incensed with him on account of his love affair and his leaving
Moscow, had given up sending him the money. And in consequence
of this, Vronsky, who had been in the habit of living on the
scale of forty-five thousand a year, having only received twenty
thousand that year, found himself now in difficulties. To get
out of these difficulties, he could not apply to his mother for
money. Her last letter, which he had received the day before,
had particularly exasperated him by the hints in it that she was
quite ready to help him to succeed in the world and in the army,
but not to lead a life which was a scandal to all good society.
His mother's attempt to buy him stung him to the quick and made
him feel colder than ever to her. But he could not draw back
from the generous word when it was once uttered, even though he
felt now, vaguely foreseeing certain eventualities in his
intrigue with Madame Karenina, that this generous word had been
spoken thoughtlessly, and that even though he were not married he
might need all the hundred thousand of income. But it was
impossible to draw back. He had only to recall his brother's
wife, to remember how that sweet, delightful Varya sought, at
every convenient opportunity, to remind him that she remembered
his generosity and appreciated it, to grasp the impossibility of
taking back his gift. It was as impossible as beating a woman,
stealing, or lying. One thing only could and ought to be done,
and Vronsky determined upon it without an instant's hesitation:
to borrow money from a money-lender, ten thousand roubles, a
proceeding which presented no difficulty, to cut down his
expenses generally, and to sell his race horses. Resolving on
this, he promptly wrote a note to Rolandak, who had more than
once sent to him with offers to buy horses from him. Then he
sent for the Englishman and the money-lender, and divided what
money he had according to the accounts he intended to pay.
Having finished this business, he wrote a cold and cutting answer
to his mother. Then he took out of his notebook three notes of
Anna's, read them again, burned them, and remembering their
conversation on the previous day, he sank into meditation.
Vronsky's life was particularly happy in that he had a code of
principles, which defined with unfailing certitude what he ought
and what he ought not to do. This code of principles covered
only a very small circle of contingencies, but then the
principles were never doubtful, and Vronsky, as he never went
outside that circle, had never had a moment's hesitation about
doing what he ought to do. These principles laid down as
invariable rules: that one must pay a cardsharper, but need not
pay a tailor; that one must never tell a lie to a man, but one
may to a woman; that one must never cheat anyone, but one may a
husband; that one must never pardon an insult, but one may give
one and so on. These principles were possibly not reasonable and
not good, but they were of unfailing certainty, and so long as he
adhered to them, Vronsky felt that his heart was at peace and he
could hold his head up. Only quite lately in regard to his
relations with Anna, Vronsky had begun to feel that his code of
principles did not fully cover all possible contingencies, and to
foresee in the future difficulties and perplexities for which he
could find no guiding clue.
His present relation to Anna and to her husband was to his mind
clear and simple. It was clearly and precisely defined in the
code of principles by which he was guided.
She was an honorable woman who had bestowed her love upon him,
and he loved her, and therefore she was in his eyes a woman who
had a right to the same, or even more, respect than a lawful
wife. He would have had his hand chopped off before he would
have allowed himself by a word, by a hint, to humiliate her, or
even to fall short of the fullest respect a woman could look for.
His attitude to society, too, was clear. Everyone might know,
might suspect it, but no one might dare to speak of it. If any
did so, he was ready to force all who might speak to be silent
and to respect the nonexistent honor of the woman he loved.
His attitude to the husband was the clearest of all. From the
moment that Anna loved Vronsky, he had regarded his own right
over her as the one thing unassailable. Her husband was simply a
superfluous and tiresome person. No doubt he was in a pitiable
position, but how could that be helped? The one thing the
husband had a right to was to demand satisfaction with a weapon
in his hand, and Vronsky was prepared for this at any minute.
But of late new inner relations had arisen between him and her,
which frightened Vronsky by their indefiniteness. Only the day
before she had told him that she was with child. And he felt
that this fact and what she expected of him called for something
not fully defined in that code of principles by which he had
hitherto steered his course in life. And he had been indeed
caught unawares, and at the first moment when she spoke to him of
her position, his heart had prompted him to beg her to leave her
husband. He had said that, but now thinking things over he saw
clearly that it would be better to manage to avoid that; and at
the same time, as he told himself so, he was afraid whether it
was not wrong.
"If I told her to leave her husband, that must mean uniting her
life with mine; am I prepared for that? How can I take her away
now, when I have no money? Supposing I could arrange.... But
how can I take her away while I'm in the service? If I say
that I ought to be prepared to do it, that is, I ought to have
the money and to retire from the army."
And he grew thoughtful. The question whether to retire from the
service or not brought him to the other and perhaps the chief
though hidden interest of his life, of which none knew but he.
Ambition was the old dream of his youth and childhood, a dream
which he did not confess even to himself, though it was so
strong that now this passion was even doing battle with his love.
His first steps in the world and in the service had been
successful, but two years before he had made a great mistake.
Anxious to show his independence and to advance, he had refused a
post that had been offered him, hoping that this refusal would
heighten his value; but it turned out that he had been too bold,
and he was passed over. And having, whether he liked or not,
taken up for himself the position of an independent man, he
carried it off with great tact and good sense, behaving as though
he bore no grudge against anyone, did not regard himself as
injured in any way, and cared for nothing but to be left alone
since he was enjoying himself. In reality he had ceased to enjoy
himself as long ago as the year before, when he went away to
Moscow. He felt that this independent attitude of a man who
might have done anything, but cared to do nothing was already
beginning to pall, that many people were beginning to fancy that
he was not really capable of anything but being a
straightforward, good-natured fellow. His connection with Madame
Karenina, by creating so much sensation and attracting general
attention, had given him a fresh distinction which soothed his
gnawing worm of ambition for a while, but a week before that worm
had been roused up again with fresh force. The friend of his
childhood, a man of the same set, of the same coterie, his
comrade in the Corps of Pages, Serpuhovskoy, who had left school
with him and had been his rival in class, in gymnastics, in their
scrapes and their dreams of glory, had come back a few days
before from Central Asia, where he had gained two steps up in
rank, and an order rarely bestowed upon generals so young.
As soon as he arrived in Petersburg, people began to talk about
him as a newly risen star of the first magnitude. A schoolfellow
of Vronsky's and of the same age, he was a general and was
expecting a command, which might have influence on the course of
political events; while Vronsky, independent and brilliant and
beloved by a charming woman though he was, was simply a cavalry
captain who was readily allowed to be as independent as ever he
liked. "Of course I don't envy Serpuhovskoy and never could
envy him; but his advancement shows me that one has only to watch
one's opportunity, and the career of a man like me may be very
rapidly made. Three years ago he was in just the same position
as I am. If I retire, I burn my ships. If I remain in the army,
I lose nothing. She said herself she did not wish to change her
position. And with her love I cannot feel envious of
Serpuhovskoy." And slowly twirling his mustaches, he got up from
the table and walked about the room. His eyes shone particularly
brightly, and he felt in that confident, calm, and happy frame of
mind which always came after he had thoroughly faced his
position. Everything was straight and clear, just as after
former days of reckoning. He shaved, took a cold bath, dressed
and went out.
"We've come to fetch you. Your lessive lasted a good time
today," said Petritsky. "Well, is it over?"
"It is over," answered Vronsky, smiling with his eyes only, and
twirling the tips of his mustaches as circumspectly as though
after the perfect order into which his affairs had been brought
any over-bold or rapid movement might disturb it.
"You're always just as if you'd come out of a bath after it,"
said Petritsky. "I've come from Gritsky's" (that was what they
called the colonel); "they're expecting you."
Vronsky, without answering, looked at his comrade, thinking of
"Yes; is that music at his place?" he said, listening to the
familiar sounds of polkas and waltzes floating across to him.
"What's the fete?"
"Aha!" said Vronsky, "why, I didn't know."
The smile in his eyes gleamed more brightly than ever.
Having once made up his mind that he was happy in his love, that
he sacrificed his ambition to it--having anyway taken up this
position, Vronsky was incapable of feeling either envious of
Serpuhovskoy or hurt with him for not coming first to him when he
came to the regiment. Serpuhovskoy was a good friend, and he was
delighted he had come.
"Ah, I'm very glad!"
The colonel, Demin, had taken a large country house. The whole
party were in the wide lower balcony. In the courtyard the first
objects that met Vronsky's eyes were a band of singers in white
linen coats, standing near a barrel of vodka, and the robust,
good-humored figure of the colonel surrounded by officers. He
had gone out as far as the first step of the balcony and was
loudly shouting across the band that played Offenbach's
quadrille, waving his arms and giving some orders to a few
soldiers standing on one side. A group of soldiers, a
quartermaster, and several subalterns came up to the balcony with
Vronsky. The colonel returned to the table, went out again onto
the steps with a tumbler in his hand, and proposed the toast, "To
the health of our former comrade, the gallant general, Prince
The colonel was followed by Serpuhovskoy, who came out onto the
steps smiling, with a glass in his hand.
"You always get younger, Bondarenko," he said to the
rosy-checked, smart-looking quartermaster standing just before
him, still youngish looking though doing his second term of
It was three years since Vronsky had seen Serpuhovskoy. He
looked more robust, had let his whiskers grow, but was still the
same graceful creature, whose face and figure were even more
striking from their softness and nobility than their beauty. The
only change Vronsky detected in him was that subdued, continual
radiance of beaming content which settles on the faces of men who
are successful and are sure of the recognition of their success
by everyone. Vronsky knew that radiant air, and immediately
observed it in Serpuhovskoy.
As Serpuhovskoy came down the steps he saw Vronsky. A smile of
pleasure lighted up his face. He tossed his head upwards and
waved the glass in his hand, greeting Vronsky, and showing him by
the gesture that he could not come to him before the
quartermaster, who stood craning forward his lips ready to be
"Here he is!" shouted the colonel. "Yashvin told me you were in
one of your gloomy tempers."
Serpuhovskoy kissed the moist, fresh lips of the gallant-looking
quartermaster, and wiping his mouth with his handkerchief, went
up to Vronsky.
"How glad I am!" he said, squeezing his hand and drawing him on
"You look after him," the colonel shouted to Yashvin, pointing to
Vronsky; and he went down below to the soldiers.
"Why weren't you at the races yesterday? I expected to see you
there," said Vronsky, scrutinizing Serpuhovskoy.
"I did go, but late. I beg your pardon," he added, and he
turned to the adjutant: "Please have this divided from me, each
man as much as it runs to." And he hurriedly took notes for
three hundred roubles from his pocketbook, blushing a little.
"Vronsky! Have anything to eat or drink?" asked Yashvin. "Hi,
something for the count to eat! Ah, here it is: have a glass!"
The fete at the colonel's lasted a long while. There was a great
deal of drinking. They tossed Serpuhovskoy in the air and caught
him again several times. Then they did the same to the colonel.
Then, to the accompaniment of the band, the colonel himself
danced with Petritsky. Then the colonel, who began to show signs
of feebleness, sat down on a bench in the courtyard and began
demonstrating to Yashvin the superiority of Russia over Poland,
especially in cavalry attack, and there was a lull in the revelry
for a moment. Serpuhovskoy went into the house to the bathroom
to wash his hands and found Vronsky there; Vronsky was drenching
his head with water. He had taken off his coat and put his
sunburnt, hairy neck under the tap, and was rubbing it and his
head with his hands. When he had finished, Vronsky sat down by
Serpuhovskoy. They both sat down in the bathroom on a lounge,
and a conversation began which was very interesting to both of
"I've always been hearing about you through my wife," said
Serpuhovskoy. "I'm glad you've been seeing her pretty often."
"She's friendly with Varya, and they're the only women in
Petersburg I care about seeing," answered Vronsky, smiling. He
smiled because he foresaw the topic the conversation would turn
on, and he was glad of it.
"The only ones?" Serpuhovskoy queried, smiling.
"Yes; and I heard news of you, but not only through your wife,"
said Vronsky, checking his hint by a stern expression of face.
"I was greatly delighted to hear of your success, but not a bit
surprised. I expected even more."
Serpuhovskoy smiled. Such an opinion of him was obviously
agreeable to him, and he did not think it necessary to conceal
"Well, I on the contrary expected less--I'll own frankly. But
I'm glad, very glad. I'm ambitious; that's my weakness, and I
confess to it."
"Perhaps you wouldn't confess to it if you hadn't been
successful," said Vronsky.
"I don't suppose so," said Serpuhovskoy, smiling again. "I
won't say life wouldn't be worth living without it, but it would
be dull. Of course I may be mistaken, but I fancy I have a
certain capacity for the line I've chosen, and that power of any
sort in my hands, if it is to be, will be better than in the
hands of a good many people I know," said Serpuhovskoy, with
beaming consciousness of success; "and so the nearer I get to it,
the better pleased I am."
"Perhaps that is true for you, but not for everyone. I used to
think so too, but here I live and think life worth living not
only for that."
"There it's out! here it comes!" said Serpuhovskoy, laughing.
"Ever since I heard about you, about your refusal, I began....
Of course, I approved of what you did. But there are ways of
doing everything. And I think your action was good in itself,
but you didn't do it quite in the way you ought to have done."
"What's done can't be undone, and you know I never go back on
what I've done. And besides, I'm very well off."
"Very well off--for the time. But you're not satisfied with
that. I wouldn't say this to your brother. He's a nice child,
like our host here. There he goes!" he added, listening to the
roar of "hurrah!"--"and he's happy, but that does not satisfy
"I didn't say it did satisfy me."
"Yes, but that's not the only thing. Such men as you are
"By whom? By society, by Russia. Russia needs men; she needs a
party, or else everything goes and will go to the dogs."
"How do you mean? Bertenev's party against the Russian
"No," said Serpuhovskoy, frowning with vexation at being
suspected of such an absurdity. "Tout ca est une blague. That's
always been and always will be. There are no communists. But
intriguing people have to invent a noxious, dangerous party.
It's an old trick. No, what's wanted is a powerful party of
independent men like you and me."
"But why so?" Vronsky mentioned a few men who were in power.
"Why aren't they independent men?"
"Simply because they have not, or have not had from birth, an
independent fortune; they've not had a name, they've not been
close to the sun and center as we have. They can be bought
either by money or by favor. And they have to find a support for
themselves in inventing a policy. And they bring forward some
notion, some policy that they don't believe in, that does harm;
and the whole policy is really only a means to a government house
and so much income. Cela n'est pas plus fin que ca, when you get
a peep at their cards. I may be inferior to them, stupider
perhaps, though I don't see why I should be inferior to them.
But you and I have one important advantage over them for certain,
in being more difficult to buy. And such men are more needed
Vronsky listened attentively, but he was not so much interested
by the meaning of the words as by the attitude of Serpuhovskoy
who was already contemplating a struggle with the existing
powers, and already had his likes and dislikes in that higher
world, while his own interest in the governing world did not go
beyond the interests of his regiment. Vronsky felt, too, how
powerful Serpuhovskoy might become through his unmistakable
faculty for thinking things out and for taking things in, through
his intelligence and gift of words, so rarely met with in the
world in which he moved. And, ashamed as he was of the feeling,
he felt envious.
"Still I haven't the one thing of most importance for that," he
answered; "I haven't the desire for power. I had it once, but
"Excuse me, that's not true," said Serpuhovskoy, smiling.
"Yes, it is true, it is true...now!" Vronsky added, to be
"Yes, it's true now, that's another thing; but that NOW won't
"Perhaps," answered Vronsky.
"You say PERHAPS," Serpuhovskoy went on, as though guessing his
thoughts, "but I say FOR CERTAIN. And that's what I wanted to
see you for. Your action was just what it should have been. I
see that, but you ought not to keep it up. I only ask you to
give me carte blanche. I'm not going to offer you my
protection...though, indeed, why shouldn't I protect you?--
you've protected me often enough! I should hope our friendship
rises above all that sort of thing. Yes," he said, smiling to
him as tenderly as a woman, "give me carte blanche, retire from
the regiment, and I'll draw you upwards imperceptibly."
"But you must understand that I want nothing," said Vronsky,
"except that all should be as it is."
Serpuhovskoy got up and stood facing him.
"You say that all should be as it is. I understand what that
means. But listen: we're the same age, you've known a greater
number of women perhaps than I have." Serpohovskoy's smile and
gestures told Vronsky that he mustn't be afraid, that he would be
tender and careful in touching the sore place. "But I'm married,
and believe me, in getting to know thoroughly one's wife, if one
loves her, as someone has said, one gets to know all women better
than if one knew thousands of them."
"We're coming directly!" Vronsky shouted to an officer, who
looked into the room and called them to the colonel.
Vronsky was longing now to hear to the end and know what
Serpuhovskey would say to him.
"And here's my opinion for you. Women are the chief stumbling
block in a man's career. It's hard to love a woman and do
anything. There's only one way of having love conveniently
without its being a hindrance--that's marriage. How, how am I
to tell you what I mean?" said Serpuhovskoy, who liked similes.
"Wait a minute, wait a minute! Yes, just as you can only carry a
fardeau and do something with your hands, when the fardeau is
tied on your back, and that's marriage. And that's what I felt
when I was married. My hands were suddenly set free. But to
drag that fardeau about with you without marriage, your hands
will always be so full that you can do nothing. Look at
Mazankov, at Krupov. They've ruined their careers for the sake
"What women!" said Vronsky, recalling the Frenchwoman and the
actress with whom the two men he had mentioned were connected.
"The firmer the woman's footing in society, the worse it is.
That's much the same as--not merely carrying the fardeau in your
arms--but tearing it away from someone else."
"You have never loved," Vronsky said softly, looking straight
before him and thinking of Anna.
"Perhaps. But you remember what I've said to you. And another
thing, women are all more materialistic than men. We make
something immense out of love, but they are always
"Directly, directly!" he cried to a footman who came in. But the
footman had not come to call them again, as he supposed. The
footman brought Vronsky a note.
"A man brought it from Princess Tverskaya."
Vronsky opened the letter, and flushed crimson.
"My head's begun to ache; I'm going home," he said to
"Oh, good-bye then. You give me carte blanche!"
"We'll talk about it later on; I'll look you up in Petersburg."
It was six o'clock already, and so, in order to be there quickly,
and at the same time not to drive with his own horses, known to
everyone, Vronsky got into Yashvin's hired fly, and told the
driver to drive as quickly as possible. It was a roomy,
old-fashioned fly, with seats for four. He sat in one corner,
stretched his legs out on the front seat, and sank into
A vague sense of the order into which his affairs had been
brought, a vague recollection of the friendliness and flattery of
Serpuhovskoy, who had considered him a man that was needed, and
most of all, the anticipation of the interview before him--all
blended into a general, joyous sense of life. This feeling was
so strong that he could not help smiling. He dropped his legs,
crossed one leg over the other knee, and taking it in his hand,
felt the springy muscle of the calf, where it had been grazed the
day before by his fall, and leaning back he drew several deep
"I'm happy, very happy!" he said to himself. He had often before
had this sense of physical joy in his own body, but he had never
felt so fond of himself, of his own body, as at that moment. He
enjoyed the slight ache in his strong leg, he enjoyed the
muscular sensation of movement in his chest as he breathed. The
bright, cold August day, which had made Anna feel so hopeless,
seemed to him keenly stimulating, and refreshed his face and neck
that still tingled from the cold water. The scent of
brilliantine on his whiskers struck him as particularly pleasant
in the fresh air. Everything he saw from the carriage window,
everything in that cold pure air, in the pale light of the
sunset, was as fresh, and gay, and strong as he was himself: the
roofs of the houses shining in the rays of the setting sun, the
sharp outlines of fences and angles of buildings, the figures of
passers-by, the carriages that met him now and then, the
motionless green of the trees and grass, the fields with evenly
drawn furrows of potatoes, and the slanting shadows that fell
from the houses, and trees, and bushes, and even from the rows of
potatoes--everything was bright like a pretty landscape just
finished and freshly varnished.
"Get on, get on!" he said to the driver, putting his head out of
the window, and pulling a three-rouble note out of his pocket he
handed it to the man as he looked round. The driver's hand
fumbled with something at the lamp, the whip cracked, and the
carriage rolled rapidly along the smooth highroad.
"I want nothing, nothing but this happiness," he thought,
staring at the bone button of the bell in the space between the
windows, and picturing to himself Anna just as he had seen her
last time. "And as I go on, I love her more and more. Here's
the garden of the Vrede Villa. Whereabouts will she be? Where?
How? Why did she fix on this place to meet me, and why does she
write in Betsy's letter?" he thought, wondering now for the first
time at it. But there was now no time for wonder. He called to
the driver to stop before reaching the avenue, and opening the
door, jumped out of the carriage as it was moving, and went into
the avenue that led up to the house. There was no one in the
avenue; but looking round to the right he caught sight of her.
Her face was hidden by a veil, but he drank in with glad eyes the
special movement in walking, peculiar to her alone, the slope of
the shoulders, and the setting of the head, and at once a sort of
electric shock ran all over him. With fresh force, he felt
conscious of himself from the springy motions of his legs to the
movements of his lungs as he breathed, and something set his lips
Joining him, she pressed his hand tightly.
"You're not angry that I sent for you? I absolutely had to see
you," she said; and the serious and set line of her lips, which
he saw under the veil, transformed his mood at once.
"I angry! But how have you come, where from?"
"Never mind," she said, laying her hand on his, "come along, I
must talk to you."
He saw that something had happened, and that the interview would
not be a joyous one. In her presence he had no will of his own:
without knowing the grounds of her distress, he already felt the
same distress unconsciously passing over him.
"What is it? what?" he asked her, squeezing her hand with his
elbow, and trying to read her thoughts in her face.
She walked on a few steps in silence, gathering up her courage;
then suddenly she stopped.
"I did not tell you yesterday," she began, breathing quickly and
painfully, "that coming home with Alexey Alexandrovitch I told
him everything...told him I could not be his wife, that...and
told him everything."
He heard her, unconsciously bending his whole figure down to her
as though hoping in this way to soften the hardness of her
position for her. But directly she had said this he suddenly
drew himself up, and a proud and hard expression came over his
"Yes, yes, that's better, a thousand times better! I know how
painful it was," he said. But she was not listening to his
words, she was reading his thoughts from the expression of his
face. She could not guess that that expression arose from the
first idea that presented itself to Vronsky--that a duel was now
inevitable. The idea of a duel had never crossed her mind, and
so she put a different interpretation on this passing expression
When she got her husband's letter, she knew then at the bottom of
her heart that everything would go on in the old way, that she
would not have the strength of will to forego her position, to
abandon her son, and to join her lover. The morning spent at
Princess Tverskaya's had confirmed her still more in this. But
this interview was still of the utmost gravity for her. She
hoped that this interview would transform her position, and save
her. If on hearing this news he were to say to her resolutely,
passionately, without an instant's wavering: "Throw up everything
and come with me!" she would give up her son and go away with
him. But this news had not produced what she had expected in
him; he simply seemed as though he were resenting some affront.
"It was not in the least painful to me. It happened of itself,"
she said irritably; "and see..." she pulled her husband's letter
out of her glove.
"I understand, I understand," he interrupted her, taking the
letter, but not reading it, and trying to soothe her. "The one
thing I longed for, the one thing I prayed for, was to cut
short this position, so as to devote my life to your happiness."
"Why do you tell me that?" she said. "Do you suppose I can doubt
it? If I doubted..."
"Who's that coming?" said Vronsky suddenly, pointing to two
ladies walking towards them. "Perhaps they know us!" and he
hurriedly turned off, drawing her after him into a side path.
"Oh, I don't care!" she said. Her lips were quivering. And he
fancied that her eyes looked with strange fury at him from under
the veil. "I tell you that's not the point--I can't doubt that;
but see what he writes to me. Read it." She stood still again.
Again, just as at the first moment of hearing of her rupture with
her husband, Vronsky, on reading the letter, was unconsciously
carried away by the natural sensation aroused in him by his own
relation to the betrayed husband. Now while he held his letter
in his hands, he could not help picturing the challenge, which he
would most likely find at home today or tomorrow, and the duel
itself in which, with the same cold and haughty expression that
his face was assuming at this moment he would await the injured
husband's shot, after having himself fired into the air. And at
that instant there flashed across his mind the thought of what
Serpuhovskoy had just said to him, and what he had himself been
thinking in the morning--that it was better not to bind himself
--and he knew that this thought he could not tell her.
Having read the letter, he raised his eyes to her, and there was
no determination in them. She saw at once that he had been
thinking about it before by himself. She knew that whatever he
might say to her, he would not say all he thought. And she knew
that her last hope had failed her. This was not what she had
been reckoning on.
"You see the sort of man he is," she said, with a shaking voice;
"Forgive me, but I rejoice at it," Vronsky interrupted. "For
God's sake, let me finish!" he added, his eyes imploring her to
give him time to explain his words. "I rejoice, because things
cannot, cannot possibly remain as he supposes."
"Why can't they?" Anna said, restraining her tears, and obviously
attaching no sort of consequence to what he said. She felt that
her fate was sealed.
Vronsky meant that after the duel--inevitable, he thought--
things could not go on as before, but he said something
"It can't go on. I hope that now you will leave him. I hope"--
he was confused, and reddened--"that you will let me arrange and
plan our life. Tomorrow..." he was beginning.
She did not let him go on.
"But my child!" she shrieked. "You see what he writes! I should
have to leave him, and I can't and won't do that."
"But, for God's sake, which is better?--leave your child, or
keep up this degrading position?"
"To whom is it degrading?"
"To all, and most of all to you."
"You say degrading...don't say that. Those words have no meaning
for me," she said in a shaking voice. She did not want him now
to say what was untrue. She had nothing left her but his love,
and she wanted to love him. "Don't you understand that from the
day I loved you everything has changed for me? For me there is
one thing, and one thing only--your love. If that's mine, I
feel so exalted, so strong, that nothing can be humiliating to
me. I am proud of my position, because...proud of being...
proud...." She could not say what she was proud of. Tears of
shame and despair choked her utterance. She stood still and
He felt, too, something swelling in his throat and twitching in
his nose, and for the first time in his life he felt on the point
of weeping. He could not have said exactly what it was touched
him so. He felt sorry for her, and he felt he could not help
her, and with that he knew that he was to blame for her
wretchedness, and that he had done something wrong.
"Is not a divorce possible?" he said feebly. She shook her head,
not answering. "Couldn't you take your son, and still leave
"Yes; but it all depends on him. Now I must go to him," she
said shortly. Her presentiment that all would again go on in the
old way had not deceived her.
"On Tuesday I shall be in Petersburg, and everything can be
"Yes," she said. "But don't let us talk any more of it."
Anna's carriage, which she had sent away, and ordered to come
back to the little gate of the Vrede garden, drove up. Anna said
good-bye to Vronsky, and drove home.
On Monday there was the usual sitting of the Commission of the
2nd of June. Alexey Alexandrovitch walked into the hall where
the sitting was held, greeted the members and the president, as
usual, and sat down in his place, putting his hand on the papers
laid ready before him. Among these papers lay the necessary
evidence and a rough outline of the speech he intended to make.
But he did not really need these documents. He remembered every
point, and did not think it necessary to go over in his memory
what he would say. He knew that when the time came, and when he
saw his enemy facing him, and studiously endeavoring to assume an
expression of indifference, his speech would flow of itself
better than he could prepare it now. He felt that the import of
his speech was of such magnitude that every word of it would have
weight. Meantime, as he listened to the usual report, he had the
most innocent and inoffensive air. No one, looking at his white
hands, with their swollen veins and long fingers, so softly
stroking the edges of the white paper that lay before him, and at
the air of weariness with which his head drooped on one side,
would have suspected that in a few minutes a torrent of words
would flow from his lips that would arouse a fearful storm, set
the members shouting and attacking one another, and force the
president to call for order. When the report was over, Alexey
Alexandrovitch announced in his subdued, delicate voice that he
had several points to bring before the meeting in regard to the
Commission for the Reorganization of the Native Tribes. All
attention was turned upon him. Alexey Alexandrovitch cleared his
throat, and not looking at his opponent, but selecting, as he
always did while he was delivering his speeches, the first person
sitting opposite him, an inoffensive little old man, who never
had an opinion of any sort in the Commission, began to expound
his views. When he reached the point about the fundamental and
radical law, his opponent jumped up and began to protest.
Stremov, who was also a member of the Commission, and also stung
to the quick, began defending himself, and altogether a stormy
sitting followed; but Alexey Alexandrovitch triumphed, and his
motion was carried, three new commissions were appointed, and the
next day in a certain Petersburg circle nothing else was talked
of but this sitting. Alexey Alexandrovitch's success had been
even greater than he had anticipated.
Next morning, Tuesday, Alexey Alexandrovitch, on waking up,
recollected with pleasure his triumph of the previous day, and he
could not help smiling, though he tried to appear indifferent,
when the chief secretary of his department, anxious to flatter
him, informed him of the rumors that had reached him concerning
what had happened in the Commission.
Absorbed in business with the chief secretary, Alexey
Alexandrovitch had completely forgotten that it was Tuesday, the
day fixed by him for the return of Anna Arkadyevna, and he was
surprised and received a shock of annoyance when a servant came
in to inform him of her arrival.
Anna had arrived in Petersburg early in the morning; the carriage
had been sent to meet her in accordance with her telegram, and so
Alexey Alexandrovitch might have known of her arrival. But when
she arrived, he did not meet her. She was told that he had not
yet gone out, but was busy with his secretary. She sent word to
her husband that she had come, went to her own room, and occupied
herself in sorting out her things, expecting he would come to
her. But an hour passed; he did not come. She went into the
dining room on the pretext of giving some directions, and spoke
loudly on purpose, expecting him to come out there; but he did
not come, though she heard him go to the door of his study as he
parted from the chief secretary. She knew that he usually went
out quickly to his office, and she wanted to see him before that,
so that their attitude to one another might be defined.
She walked across the drawing room and went resolutely to him.
When she went into his study he was in official uniform,
obviously ready to go out, sitting at a little table on which he
rested his elbows, looking dejectedly before him. She saw him
before he saw her, and she saw that he was thinking of her.
On seeing her, he would have risen, but changed his mind, then
his face flushed hotly--a thing Anna had never seen before, and
he got up quickly and went to meet her, looking not at her eyes,
but above them at her forehead and hair. He went up to her, took
her by the hand, and asked her to sit down.
"I am very glad you have come," he said, sitting down beside her,
and obviously wishing to say something, he stuttered. Several
times he tried to begin to speak, but stopped. In spite of the
fact that, preparing herself for meeting him, she had schooled
herself to despise and reproach him, she did not know what to say
to him, and she felt sorry for him. And so the silence lasted
for some time. "Is Seryozha quite well?" he said, and not
waiting for an answer, he added: "I shan't be dining at home
today, and I have got to go out directly."
"I had thought of going to Moscow," she said.
"No, you did quite, quite right to come," he said, and was silent
Seeing that he was powerless to begin the conversation, she began
"Alexey Alexandrovitch," she said, looking at him and not
dropping her eyes under his persistent gaze at her hair, "I'm a
guilty woman, I'm a bad woman, but I am the same as I was, as I
told you then, and I have come to tell you that I can change
"I have asked you no question about that," he said, all at once,
resolutely and with hatred looking her straight in the face;
"that was as I had supposed." Under the influence of anger he
apparently regained complete possession of all his faculties.
"But as I told you then, and have written to you," he said in a
thin, shrill voice, "I repeat now, that I am not bound to know
this. I ignore it. Not all wives are so kind as you, to be in
such a hurry to communicate such agreeable news to their
husbands." He laid special emphasis on the word "agreeable." "I
shall ignore it so long as the world knows nothing of it, so long
as my name is not disgraced. And so I simply inform you that
our relations must be just as they have always been, and that
only in the event of your compromising me I shall be obliged to
take steps to secure my honor."
"But our relations cannot be the same as always," Anna began in a
timid voice, looking at him with dismay.
When she saw once more those composed gestures, heard that
shrill, childish, and sarcastic voice, her aversion for him
extinguished her pity for him, and she felt only afraid, but at
all costs she wanted to make clear her position.
"I cannot be your wife while I..." she began.
He laughed a cold and malignant laugh.
"The manner of life you have chosen is reflected, I suppose, in
your ideas. I have too much respect or contempt, or both...I
respect your past and despise your present...that I was far from
the interpretation you put on my words."
Anna sighed and bowed her head.
"Though indeed I fail to comprehend how, with the independence
you show," he went on, getting hot, "--announcing your infidelity
to your husband and seeing nothing reprehensible in it,
apparently--you can see anything reprehensible in performing a
wife's duties in relation to your husband."
"Alexey Alexandrovitch! What is it you want of me?"
"I want you not to meet that man here, and to conduct yourself so
that neither the world nor the servants can reproach you...not to
see him. That's not much, I think. And in return you will enjoy
all the privileges of a faithful wife without fulfilling her
duties. That's all I have to say to you. Now it's time for me
to go. I'm not dining at home." He got up and moved towards the
Anna got up too. Bowing in silence, he let her pass before him.
The night spent by Levin on the haycock did not pass without
result for him. The way in which he had been managing his land
revolted him and had lost all attraction for him. In spite of
the magnificent harvest, never had there been, or, at least,
never it seemed to him, had there been so many hindrances and so
many quarrels between him and the peasants as that year, and the
origin of these failures and this hostility was now perfectly
comprehensible to him. The delight he had experienced in the
work itself, and the consequent greater intimacy with the
peasants, the envy he felt of them, of their life, the desire to
adopt that life, which had been to him that night not a dream but
an intention, the execution of which he had thought out in detail
--all this had so transformed his view of the farming of the land
as he had managed it, that he could not take his former interest
in it, and could not help seeing that unpleasant relation between
him and the workspeople which was the foundation of it all. The
herd of improved cows such as Pava, the whole land ploughed over
and enriched, the nine level fields surrounded with hedges, the
two hundred and forty acres heavily manured, the seed sown in
drills, and all the rest of it--it was all splendid if only the
work had been done for themselves, or for themselves and comrades
--people in sympathy with them. But he saw clearly now (his work
on a book of agriculture, in which the chief element in husbandry
was to have been the laborer, greatly assisted him in this) that
the sort of farming he was carrying on was nothing but a cruel
and stubborn struggle between him and the laborers, in which
there was on one side--his side--a continual intense effort to
change everything to a pattern he considered better; on the other
side, the natural order of things. And in the struggle he saw
that with immense expenditure of force on his side, and with no
effort or even intention on the other side, all that was attained
was that the work did not go to the liking of either side, and
that splendid tools, splendid cattle and land were spoiled with
no good to anyone. Worst of all, the energy expended on this
work was not simply wasted. He could not help feeling now, since
the meaning of this system had become clear to him, that the aim
of his energy was a most unworthy one. In reality, what was the
struggle about? He was struggling for every farthing of his
share (and he could not help it, for he had only to relax his
efforts, and he would not have had the money to pay his laborers'
wages), while they were only struggling to be able to do their
work easily and agreeably, that is to say, as they were used to
doing it. It was for his interests that every laborer should
work as hard as possible, and that while doing so he should keep
his wits about him, so as to try not to break the winnowing
machines, the horse rakes, the thrashing machines, that he should
attend to what he was doing. What the laborer wanted was to work
as pleasantly as possible, with rests, and above all, carelessly
and heedlessly, without thinking. That summer Levin saw this at
every step. He sent the men to mow some clover for hay, picking
out the worst patches where the clover was overgrown with grass
and weeds and of no use for seed; again and again they mowed the
best acres of clover, justifying themselves by the pretense that
the bailiff had told them to, and trying to pacify him with the
assurance that it would be splendid hay; but he knew that it was
owing to those acres being so much easier to mow. He sent out a
hay machine for pitching the hay--it was broken at the first row
because it was dull work for a peasant to sit on the seat in
front with the great wings waving above him. And he was told,
"Don't trouble, your honor, sure, the womenfolks will pitch it
quick enough." The ploughs were practically useless, because it
never occurred to the laborer to raise the share when he turned
the plough, and forcing it round, he strained the horses and tore
up the ground, and Levin was begged not to mind about it. The
horses were allowed to stray into the wheat because not a single
laborer would consent to be night-watchman, and in spite of
orders to the contrary, the laborers insisted on taking turns for
night duty, and Ivan, after working all day long, fell asleep,
and was very penitent for his fault, saying, "Do what you will to
me, your honor."
They killed three of the best calves by letting them into the
clover aftermath without care as to their drinking, and nothing
would make the men believe that they had been blown out by the
clover, but they told him, by way of consolation, that one of his
neighbors had lost a hundred and twelve head of cattle in three
days. All this happened, not because anyone felt ill-will to
Levin or his farm; on the contrary, he knew that they liked him,
thought him a simple gentleman (their highest praise); but it
happened simply because all they wanted was to work merrily and
carelessly, and his interests were not only remote and
incomprehensible to them, but fatally opposed to their most just
claims. Long before, Levin had felt dissatisfaction with his own
position in regard to the land. He saw where his boat leaked,
but he did not look for the leak, perhaps purposely deceiving
himself. (Nothing would be left him if he lost faith in it.) But
now he could deceive himself no longer. The farming of the land,
as he was managing it, had become not merely unattractive but
revolting to him, and he could take no further interest in it.
To this now was joined the presence, only twenty-five miles off,
of Kitty Shtcherbatskaya, whom he longed to see and could not
see. Darya Alexandrovna Oblonskaya had invited him, when he was
over there, to come; to come with the object of renewing his
offer to her sister, who would, so she gave him to understand,
accept him now. Levin himself had felt on seeing Kitty
Shtcherbatskaya that he had never ceased to love her; but he
could not go over to the Oblonskys', knowing she was there. The
fact that he had made her an offer, and she had refused him,
had placed an insuperable barrier between her and him. "I can't
ask her to be my wife merely because she can't be the wife of the
man she wanted to marry," he said to himself. The thought of
this made him cold and hostile to her. "I should not be able to
speak to her without a feeling of reproach; I could not look at
her without resentment; and she will only hate me all the more,
as she's bound to. And besides, how can I now, after what Darya
Alexandrovna told me, go to see them? Can I help showing that I
know what she told me? And me to go magnanimously to forgive
her, and have pity on her! Me go through a performance before
her of forgiving, and deigning to bestow my love on her!... What
induced Darya Alexandrovna to tell me that? By chance I might
have seen her, then everything would have happened of itself;
but, as it is, it's out of the question, out of the question!"
Darya Alexandrovna sent him a letter, asking him for a
side-saddle for Kitty's use. "I'm told you have a side-saddle,"
she wrote to him; "I hope you will bring it over yourself."
This was more than he could stand. How could a woman of any
intelligence, of any delicacy, put her sister in such a
humiliating position! He wrote ten notes, and tore them all up,
and sent the saddle without any reply. To write that he would go
was impossible, because he could not go; to write that he could
not come because something prevented him, or that he would be
away, that was still worse. He sent the saddle without an
answer, and with a sense of having done something shameful; he
handed over all the now revolting business of the estate to the
bailiff, and set off next day to a remote district to see his
friend Sviazhsky, who had splendid marshes for grouse in his
neighborhood, and had lately written to ask him to keep a
long-standing promise to stay with him. The grouse-marsh, in the
Surovsky district, had long tempted Levin, but he had continually
put off this visit on account of his work on the estate. Now he
was glad to get away from the neighborhood of the Shtcherbatskys,
and still more from his farm work, especially on a shooting
expedition, which always in trouble served as the best
In the Surovsky district there was no railway nor service of
post horses, and Levin drove there with his own horses in his
big, old-fashioned carriage.
He stopped halfway at a well-to-do peasant's to feed his horses.
A bald, well-preserved old man, with a broad, red beard, gray on
his cheeks, opened the gate, squeezing against the gatepost to
let the three horses pass. Directing the coachman to a place
under the shed in the big, clean, tidy yard, with charred,
old-fashioned ploughs in it, the old man asked Levin to come into
the parlor. A cleanly dressed young woman, with clogs on her
bare feet, was scrubbing the floor in the new outer room. She
was frightened of the dog, that ran in after Levin, and uttered a
shriek, but began laughing at her own fright at once when she was
told the dog would not hurt her. Pointing Levin with her bare
arm to the door into the parlor, she bent down again, hiding her
handsome face, and went on scrubbing.
"Would you like the samovar?" she asked.
The parlor was a big room, with a Dutch stove, and a screen
dividing it into two. Under the holy pictures stood a table
painted in patterns, a bench, and two chairs. Near the entrance
was a dresser full of crockery. The shutters were closed, there
were few flies, and it was so clean that Levin was anxious that
Laska, who had been running along the road and bathing in
puddles, should not muddy the floor, and ordered her to a place
in the corner by the door. After looking round the parlor, Levin
went out in the back yard. The good-looking young woman in
clogs, swinging the empty pails on the yoke, ran on before him to
the well for water.
"Look sharp, my girl!" the old man shouted after her,
good-humoredly, and he went up to Levin. "Well, sir, are you
going to Nikolay Ivanovitch Sviazhsky? His honor comes to us
too," he began, chatting, leaning his elbows on the railing of
the steps. In the middle of the old man's account of his
acquaintance with Sviazhsky, the gates creaked again, and
laborers came into the yard from the fields, with wooden ploughs
and harrows. The horses harnessed to the ploughs and harrows
were sleek and fat. The laborers were obviously of the
household: two were young men in cotton shirts and caps, the two
others were hired laborers in homespun shirts, one an old man,
the other a young fellow. Moving off from the steps, the old man
went up to the horses and began unharnessing them.
"What have they been ploughing?" asked Levin.
"Ploughing up the potatoes. We rent a bit of land too. Fedot,
don't let out the gelding, but take it to the trough, and we'll
put the other in harness."
"Oh, father, the ploughshares I ordered, has he brought them
along?" asked the big, healthy-looking fellow, obviously the old
"There...in the outer room," answered the old man, bundling
together the harness he had taken off, and flinging it on the
ground. "You can put them on, while they have dinner."
The good-looking young woman came into the outer room with the
full pails dragging at her shoulders. More women came on the
scene from somewhere, young and handsome, middle-aged, old and
ugly, with children and without children.
The samovar was beginning to sing; the laborers and the family,
having disposed of the horses, came in to dinner. Levin, getting
his provisions out of his carriage, invited the old man to take
tea with him.
"Well, I have had some today already," said the old man,
obviously accepting the invitation with pleasure. "But just a
glass for company."
Over their tea Levin heard all about the old man's farming. Ten
years before, the old man had rented three hundred acres from the
lady who owned them, and a year ago he had bought them and rented
another three hundred from a neighboring landowner. A small part
of the land--the worst part--he let out for rent, while a
hundred acres of arable land he cultivated himself with his
family and two hired laborers. The old man complained that
things were doing badly. But Levin saw that he simply did so
from a feeling of propriety, and that his farm was in a
flourishing condition. If it had been unsuccessful he would not
have bought land at thirty-five roubles the acre, he would not
have married his three sons and a nephew, he would not have
rebuilt twice after fires, and each time on a larger scale. In
spite of the old man's complaints, it was evident that he was
proud, and justly proud, of his prosperity, proud of his sons,
his nephew, his sons' wives, his horses and his cows, and
especially of the fact that he was keeping all this farming
going. From his conversation with the old man, Levin thought he
was not averse to new methods either. He had planted a great
many potatoes, and his potatoes, as Levin had seen driving past,
were already past flowering and beginning to die down, while
Levin's were only just coming into flower. He earthed up his
potatoes with a modern plough borrowed from a neighboring
landowner. He sowed wheat. The trifling fact that, thinning out
his rye, the old man used the rye he thinned out for his horses,
specially struck Levin. How many times had Levin seen this
splendid fodder wasted, and tried to get it saved; but always it
had turned out to be impossible. The peasant got this done, and
he could not say enough in praise of it as food for the beasts.
"What have the wenches to do? They carry it out in bundles to
the roadside, and the cart brings it away."
"Well, we landowners can't manage well with our laborers," said
Levin, handing him a glass of tea.
"Thank you," said the old man, and he took the glass, but refused
sugar, pointing to a lump he had left. "They're simple
destruction," said he. "Look at Sviazhsky's, for instance. We
know what the land's like--first-rate, yet there's not much of a
crop to boast of. It's not looked after enough--that's all it
"But you work your land with hired laborers?"
"We're all peasants together. We go into everything ourselves.
If a man's no use, he can go, and we can manage by ourselves."
"Father Finogen wants some tar," said the young woman in the
clogs, coming in.
"Yes, yes, that's how it is, sir!" said the old man, getting up,
and crossing himself deliberately, he thanked Levin and went out.
When Levin went into the kitchen to call his coachman he saw the
whole family at dinner. The women were standing up waiting on
them. The young, sturdy-looking son was telling something funny
with his mouth full of pudding, and they were all laughing, the
woman in the clogs, who was pouring cabbage soup into a bowl,
laughing most merrily of all.
Very probably the good-looking face of the young woman in the
dogs had a good deal to do with the impression of well-being this
peasant household made upon Levin, but the impression was so
strong that Levin could never get rid of it. And all the way
from the old peasant's to Sviazhsky's he kept recalling this
peasant farm as though there were something in this impression
that demanded his special attention.
Sviazhsky was the marshal of his district. He was five years
older than Levin, and had long been married. His sister-in-law,
a young girl Levin liked very much, lived in his house; and Levin
knew that Sviazhsky and his wife would have greatly liked to
marry the girl to him. He knew this with certainty, as so-called
eligible young men always know it, though he could never have
brought himself to speak of it to anyone; and he knew too that,
although he wanted to get married, and although by every token
this very attractive girl would make an excellent wife, he could
no more have married her, even if he had not been in love with
Kitty Shtcherbatskaya, than he could have flown up to the sky.
And this knowledge poisoned the pleasure he had hoped to find in
the visit to Sviazhsky.
On getting Sviazhsky's letter with the invitation for shooting,
Levin had immediately thought of this; but in spite of it he had
made up his mind that Sviazhsky's having such views for him was
simply his own groundless supposition, and so he would go, all
the same. Besides, at the bottom of his heart he had a desire to
try himself, put himself to the test in regard to this girl. The
Sviazhskys' home-life was exceedingly pleasant, and Sviazhsky
himself, the best type of man taking part in local affairs that
Levin knew, was very interesting to him.
Sviazhsky was one of those people, always a source of wonder to
Levin, whose convictions, very logical though never original, go
one way by themselves, while their life, exceedingly definite and
firm in its direction, goes its way quite apart and almost always
in direct contradiction to their convictions. Sviazhsky was an
extremely advanced man. He despised the nobility, and believed
the mass of the nobility to be secretly in favor of serfdom, and
only concealing their views from cowardice. He regarded Russia
as a ruined country, rather after the style of Turkey, and the
government of Russia as so bad that he never permitted himself to
criticize its doings seriously, and yet he was a functionary of
that government and a model marshal of nobility, and when he
drove about he always wore the cockade of office and the cap with
the red band. He considered human life only tolerable abroad,
and went abroad to stay at every opportunity, and at the same
time he carried on a complex and improved system of agriculture
in Russia, and with extreme interest followed everything and knew
everything that was being done in Russia. He considered the
Russian peasant as occupying a stage of development intermediate
between the ape and the man, and at the same time in the local
assemblies no one was readier to shake hands with the peasants
and listen to their opinion. He believed neither in God nor the
devil, but was much concerned about the question of the
improvement of the clergy and the maintenance of their revenues,
and took special trouble to keep up the church in his village.
On the woman question he was on the side of the extreme advocates
of complete liberty for women, and especially their right to
labor. But he lived with his wife on such terms that their
affectionate childless home life was the admiration of everyone,
and arranged his wife's life so that she did nothing and could do
nothing but share her husband's efforts that her time should pass
as happily and as agreeably as possible.
If it had not been a characteristic of Levin's to put the most
favorable interpretation on people, Sviazhsky's character would
have presented no doubt or difficulty to him: he would have said
to himself, "a fool or a knave," and everything would have seemed
clear. But he could not say "a fool," because Sviazhsky was
unmistakably clever, and moreover, a highly cultivated man, who
was exceptionally modest over his culture. There was not a
subject he knew nothing of. But he did not display his knowledge
except when he was compelled to do so. Still less could Levin
say that he was a knave, as Sviazhsky was unmistakably an honest,
good-hearted, sensible man, who worked good-humoredly, keenly,
and perseveringly at his work; he was held in high honor by
everyone about him, and certainly he had never consciously done,
and was indeed incapable of doing, anything base.
Levin tried to understand him, and could not understand him, and
looked at him and his life as at a living enigma.
Levin and he were very friendly, and so Levin used to venture to
sound Sviazhsky, to try to get at the very foundation of his view
of life; but it was always in vain. Every time Levin tried to
penetrate beyond the outer chambers of Sviazhsky's mind, which
were hospitably open to all, he noticed that Sviazhsky was
slightly disconcerted; faint signs of alarm were visible in his
eyes, as though he were afraid Levin would understand him, and he
would give him a kindly, good-humored repulse.
Just now, since his disenchantment with farming, Levin was
particularly glad to stay with Sviazhsky. Apart from the fact
that the sight of this happy and affectionate couple, so pleased
with themselves and everyone else, and their well-ordered home
had always a cheering effect on Levin, he felt a longing, now
that he was so dissatisfied with his own life, to get at that
secret in Sviazhsky that gave him such clearness, definiteness,
and good courage in life. Moreover, Levin knew that at
Sviazhsky's he should meet the landowners of the neighborhood,
and it was particularly interesting for him just now to hear and
take part in those rural conversations concerning crops,
laborers' wages, and so on, which, he was aware, are
conventionally regarded as something very low, but which seemed
to him just now to constitute the one subject of importance. "It
was not, perhaps, of importance in the days of serfdom, and it
may not be of importance in England. In both cases the
conditions of agriculture are firmly established; but among us
now, when everything has been turned upside down and is only just
taking shape, the question what form these conditions will take
is the one question of importance in Russia," thought Levin.
The shooting turned out to be worse than Levin had expected. The
marsh was dry and there were no grouse at all. He walked about
the whole day and only brought back three birds, but to make up
for that--he brought back, as he always did from shooting, an
excellent appetite, excellent spirits, and that keen,
intellectual mood which with him always accompanied violent
physical exertion. And while out shooting, when he seemed to be
thinking of nothing at all, suddenly the old man and his family
kept coming back to his mind, and the impression of them seemed
to claim not merely his attention, but the solution of some
question connected with them.
In the evening at tea, two landowners who had come about some
business connected with a wardship were of the party, and the
interesting conversation Levin had been looking forward to sprang
Levin was sitting beside his hostess at the tea table, and was
obliged to keep up a conversation with her and her sister, who
was sitting opposite him. Madame Sviazhskaya was a round-faced,
fair-haired, rather short woman, all smiles and dimples. Levin
tried through her to get a solution of the weighty enigma her
husband presented to his mind; but he had not complete freedom of
ideas, because he was in an agony of embarrassment. This agony
of embarrassment was due to the fact that the sister-in-law was
sitting opposite to him, in a dress, specially put on, as he
fancied, for his benefit, cut particularly open, in the shape of
a trapeze, on her white bosom. This quadrangular opening, in
spite of the bosom's being very white, or just because it was
very white, deprived Levin of the full use of his faculties. He
imagined, probably mistakenly, that this low-necked bodice had
been made on his account, and felt that he had no right to look
at it, and tried not to look at it; but he felt that he was to
blame for the very fact of the low-necked bodice having been
made. It seemed to Levin that he had deceived someone, that he
ought to explain something, but that to explain it was
impossible, and for that reason he was continually blushing, was
ill at ease and awkward. His awkwardness infected the pretty
sister-in-law too. But their hostess appeared not to observe
this, and kept purposely drawing her into the conversation.
"You say," she said, pursuing the subject that had been started,
"that my husband cannot be interested in what's Russian. It's
quite the contrary; he is always in cheerful spirits abroad, but
not as he is here. Here, he feels in his proper place. He has
so much to do, and he has the faculty of interesting himself in
everything. Oh, you've not been to see our school, have you?"
"I've seen it.... The little house covered with ivy, isn't it?"
"Yes; that's Nastia's work," she said, indicating her sister.
"You teach in it yourself?" asked Levin, trying to look above the
open neck, but feeling that wherever he looked in that direction
he should see it.
"Yes; I used to teach in it myself, and do teach still, but we
have a first-rate schoolmistress now. And we've started
"No, thank you, I won't have any more tea," said Levin, and
conscious of doing a rude thing, but incapable of continuing the
conversation, he got up, blushing. "I hear a very interesting
conversation," he added, and walked to the other end of the
table, where Sviazhsky was sitting with the two gentlemen of the
neighborhood. Sviazhsky was sitting sideways, with one elbow on
the table, and a cup in one hand, while with the other hand he
gathered up his beard, held it to his nose and let it drop again,
as though he were smelling it. His brilliant black eyes were
looking straight at the excited country gentleman with gray
whiskers, and apparently he derived amusement from his remarks.
The gentleman was complaining of the peasants. It was evident to
Levin that Sviazhsky knew an answer to this gentleman's
complaints, which would at once demolish his whole contention,
but that in his position he could not give utterance to this
answer, and listened, not without pleasure, to the landowner's
The gentleman with the gray whiskers was obviously an inveterate
adherent of serfdom and a devoted agriculturist, who had lived
all his life in the country. Levin saw proofs of this in his
dress, in the old-fashioned threadbare coat, obviously not his
everyday attire, in his shrewd deep-set eyes, in his idiomatic,
fluent Russian, in the imperious tone that had become habitual
from long use, and in the resolute gestures of his large, red,
sunburnt hands, with an old betrothal ring on the little finger.
"If I'd only the heart to throw up what's been set going...such a
lot of trouble wasted...I'd turn my back on the whole business,
sell up, go off like Nikolay Ivanovitch...to hear La Belle
Helene," said the landowner, a pleasant smile lighting up his
shrewd old face.
"But you see you don't throw it up," said Nikolay Ivanovitch
Sviazhsky; "so there must be something gained."
"The only gain is that I live in my own house, neither bought
nor hired. Besides, one keeps hoping the people will learn
sense. Though, instead of that, you'd never believe it--the
drunkenness, the immorality! They keep chopping and changing
their bits of land. Not a sight of a horse or a cow. The
peasant's dying of hunger, but just go and take him on as a
laborer, he'll do his best to do you a mischief, and then bring
you up before the justice of the peace."
"But then you make complaints to the justice too," said
"I lodge complaints? Not for anything in the world! Such a
talking, and such a to-do, that one would have cause to regret
it. At the works, for instance, they pocketed the advance-money
and made off. What did the justice do? Why, acquitted them.
Nothing keeps them in order but their own communal court and
their village elder. He'll flog them in the good old style! But
for that there'd be nothing for it but to give it all up and run
Obviously the landowner was chaffing Sviazhsky, who, far from
resenting it, was apparently amused by it.
"But you see we manage our land without such extreme measures,"
said he, smiling: "Levin and I and this gentleman."
He indicated the other landowner.
"Yes, the thing's done at Mihail Petrovitch's, but ask him how
it's done. Do you call that a rational system?" said the
landowner, obviously rather proud of the word "rational."
"My system's very simple," said Mihail Petrovitch, "thank God.
All my management rests on getting the money ready for the autumn
taxes, and the peasants come to me, 'Father, master, help us!'
Well, the peasants are all one's neighbors; one feels for them.
So one advances them a third, but one says: 'Remember, lads, I
have helped you, and you must help me when I need it--whether
it's the sowing of the oats, or the haycutting, or the harvest';
and well, one agrees, so much for each taxpayer--though there
are dishonest ones among them too, it's true."
Levin, who had long been familiar with these patriarchal methods,
exchanged glances with Sviazhsky and interrupted Mihail
Petrovitch, turning again to the gentleman with the gray
"Then what do you think?" he asked; "what system is one to adopt
"Why, manage like Mihail Petrovitch, or let the land for half the
crop or for rent to the peasants; that one can do--only that's
just how the general prosperity of the country is being ruined.
Where the land with serf-labor and good management gave a yield
of nine to one, on the half-crop system it yields three to one.
Russia has been ruined by the emancipation!"
Sviazhsky looked with smiling eyes at Levin, and even made a
faint gesture of irony to him; but Levin did not think the
landowner's words absurd, he understood them better than he did
Sviazhsky. A great deal more of what the gentleman with the gray
whiskers said to show in what way Russia was ruined by the
emancipation struck him indeed as very true, new to him, and
quite incontestable. The landowner unmistakably spoke his own
individual thought--a thing that very rarely happens--and a
thought to which he had been brought not by a desire of finding
some exercise for an idle brain, but a thought which had grown up
out of the conditions of his life, which he had brooded over in
the solitude of his village, and had considered in every aspect.
"The point is, don't you see, that progress of every sort is only
made by the use of authority," he said, evidently wishing to show
he was not without culture. "Take the reforms of Peter, of
Catherine, of Alexander. Take European history. And progress in
agriculture more than anything else--the potato, for instance,
that was introduced among us by force. The wooden plough too
wasn't always used. It was introduced maybe in the days before
the Empire, but it was probably brought in by force. Now, in our
own day, we landowners in the serf times used various
improvements in our husbandry: drying machines and thrashing
machines, and carting manure and all the modern implements--all
that we brought into use by our authority, and the peasants
opposed it at first, and ended by imitating us. Now by the
abolition of serfdom we have been deprived of our authority; and
so our husbandry, where it had been raised to a high level, is
bound to sink to the most savage primitive condition. That's how
I see it."
"But why so? If it's rational, you'll be able to keep up the
same system with hired labor," said Sviazhsky.
"We've no power over them. With whom am I going to work the
system, allow me to ask?"
"There it is--the labor force--the chief element in
agriculture," thought Levin.
"The laborers won't work well, and won't work with good
implements. Our laborer can do nothing but get drunk like a pig,
and when he's drunk he ruins everything you give him. He makes
the horses ill with too much water, cuts good harness, barters
the tires of the wheels for drink, drops bits of iron into the
thrashing machine, so as to break it. He loathes the sight of
anything that's not after his fashion. And that's how it is the
whole level of husbandry has fallen. Lands gone out of
cultivation, overgrown with weeds, or divided among the peasants,
and where millions of bushels were raised you get a hundred
thousand; the wealth of the country has decreased. If the same
thing had been done, but with care that..."
And he proceeded to unfold his own scheme of emancipation by
means of which these drawbacks might have been avoided.
This did not interest Levin, but when he had finished, Levin went
back to his first position, and, addressing Sviazhsky, and trying
to draw him into expressing his serious opinion:--
"That the standard of culture is falling, and that with our
present relations to the peasants there is no possibility of
famling on a rational system to yield a profit--that's perfectly
true," said he.
"I don't believe it," Sviazhsky replied quite seriously; "all I
see is that we don't know how to cultivate the land, and that our
system of agriculture in the serf days was by no means too high,
but too low. We have no machines, no good stock, no efficient
supervision; we don't even know how to keep accounts. Ask any
landowner; he won't be able to tell you what crop's profitable,
and what's not."
"Italian bookkeeping," said the gentleman of the gray whiskers
ironically. "You may keep your books as you like, but if they
spoil everything for you, there won't be any profit."
"Why do they spoil things? A poor thrashing machine, or your
Russian presser, they will break, but my steam press they don't
break. A wretched Russian nag they'll ruin, but keep good
dray-horses--they won't ruin them. And so it is all round. We
must raise our farming to a higher level."
"Oh, if one only had the means to do it, Nikolay Ivanovitch!
It's all very well for you; but for me, with a son to keep at the
university, lads to be educated at the high school--how am I
going to buy these dray-horses?"
"Well, that's what the land banks are for."
"To get what's left me sold by auction? No, thank you."
"I don't agree that it's necessary or possible to raise the level
of agriculture still higher," said Levin. "I devote myself to
it, and I have means, but I can do nothing. As to the banks, I
don't know to whom they're any good. For my part, anyway,
whatever I've spent money on in the way of husbandry, it has been
a loss: stock--a loss, machinery--a loss."
"That's true enough," the gentleman with the gray whiskers chimed
in, positively laughing with satisfaction.
"And I'm not the only one," pursued Levin. "I mix with all the
neighboring landowners, who are cultivating their land on a
rational system; they all, with rare exceptions, are doing so at
a loss. Come, tell us how does your land do--does it pay?" said
Levin, and at once in Sviazhsky's eyes he detected that fleeting
expression of alarm which he had noticed whenever he had tried to
penetrate beyond the outer chambers of Sviazhsky's mind.
Moreover, this question on Levin's part was not quite in good
faith. Madame Sviazhskaya had just told him at tea that they had
that summer invited a Gemman expert in bookkeeping from Moscow,
who for a consideration of five hundred roubles had investigated
the management of their property, and found that it was costing
them a loss of three thousand odd roubles. She did not remember
the precise sum, but it appeared that the Gemman had worked it
out to the fraction of a farthing.
The gray-whiskered landowner smiled at the mention of the profits
of Sviazhsky's famling, obviously aware how much gain his
neighbor and marshal was likely to be making.
"Possibly it does not pay," answered Sviazhsky. "That merely
proves either that I'm a bad manager, or that I've sunk my
capital for the increase of my rents."
"Oh, rent!" Levin cried with horror. "Rent there may be in
Europe, where land has been improved by the labor put into it,
but with us all the land is deteriorating from the labor put into
it--in other words they're working it out; so there's no
question of rent."
"How no rent? It's a law."
"Then we're outside the law; rent explains nothing for us, but
simply muddles us. No, tell me how there can be a theory of
"Will you have some junket? Masha, pass us some junket or
raspberries." He turned to his wife. "Extraordinarily late the
raspberries are lasting this year."
And in the happiest frame of mind Sviazhsky got up and walked
off, apparently supposing the conversation to have ended at the
very point when to Levin it seemed that it was only just
Having lost his antagonist, Levin continued the conversation with
the gray-whiskered landowner, trying to prove to him that all the
difficulty arises from the fact that we don't find out the
peculiarities and habits of our laborer; but the landowner, like
all men who think independently and in isolation, was slow in
taking in any other person's idea, and particularly partial to
his own. He stuck to it that the Russian peasant is a swine and
likes swinishness, and that to get him out of his swinishness one
must have authority, and there is none; one must have the stick,
and we have become so liberal that we have all of a sudden
replaced the stick that served us for a thousand years by lawyers
and model prisons, where the worthless, stinking peasant is fed
on good soup and has a fixed allowance of cubic feet of air.
"What makes you think," said Levin, trying to get back to the
question, "that it's impossible to find some relation to the
laborer in which the labor would become productive?"
"That never could be so with the Russian peasantry; we've no
power over them," answered the landowner.
"How can new conditions be found?" said Sviazhsky. Having eaten
some junket and lighted a cigarette, he came back to the
discussion. "All possible relations to the labor force have been
defined and studied," he said. "The relic of barbarism, the
primitive commune with each guarantee for all, will disappear of
itself; serfdom has been abolished--there remains nothing but
free labor, and its forms are fixed and ready made, and must be
adopted. Permanent hands, day-laborers, rammers--you can't get
out of those forms."
"But Europe is dissatisfied with these forms."
"Dissatisfied, and seeking new ones. And will find them, in all
"That's just what I was meaning," answered Levin. "Why
shouldn't we seek them for ourselves?"
"Because it would be just like inventing afresh the means for
constructing railways. They are ready, invented."
"But if they don't do for us, if they're stupid?" said Levin.
And again he detected the expression of alarm in the eyes of
"Oh, yes; we'll bury the world under our caps! We've found the
secret Europe was seeking for! I've heard all that; but, excuse
me, do you know all that's been done in Europe on the question of
the organization of labor?"
"No, very little."
"That question is now absorbing the best minds in Europe. The
Schulze-Delitsch movement.... And then all this enormous
literature of the labor question, the most liberal Lassalle
movement...the Mulhausen experiment? That's a fact by now, as
you're probably aware."
"I have some idea of it, but very vague."
"No, you only say that; no doubt you know all about it as well as
I do. I'm not a professor of sociology, of course, but it
interested me, and really, if it interests you, you ought to
"But what conclusion have they come to?"
The two neighbors had risen, and Sviazhsky, once more checking
Levin in his inconvenient habit of peeping into what was beyond
the outer chambers of his mind, went to see his guests out.
Levin was insufferably bored that evening with the ladies; he was
stirred as he had never been before by the idea that the
dissatisfaction he was feeling with his system of managing his
land was not an exceptional case, but the general condition of
things in Russia; that the organization of some relation of the
laborers to the soil in which they would work, as with the
peasant he had met half-way to the Sviazhskys', was not a dream,
but a problem which must be solved. And it seemed to him that
the problem could be solved, and that he ought to try and solve
After saying good-night to the ladies, and promising to stay the
whole of the next day, so as to make an expedition on horseback
with them to see an interesting ruin in the crown forest, Levin
went, before going to bed, into his host's study to get the books
on the labor question that Sviazhsky had offered him.
Sviazhsky's study was a huge room, surrounded by bookcases and
with two tables in it--one a massive writing table, standing in
the middle of the room, and the other a round table, covered with