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Chapter 12

In the early days after his return from Moscow, whenever Levin
shuddered and grew red, remembering the disgrace of his
rejection, he said to himself: "This was just how I used to
shudder and blush, thinking myself utterly lost, when I was
plucked in physics and did not get my remove; and how I thought
myself utterly ruined after I had mismanaged that affair of my
sister's that was entrusted to me. And yet, now that years have
passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so
much. It will be the same thing too with this trouble. Time
will go by and I shall not mind about this either."

But three months had passed and he had not left off minding about
it; and it was as painful for him to think of it as it had been
those first days. He could not be at peace because after
dreaming so long of family life, and feeling himself so ripe for
it, he was still not married, and was further than ever from
marriage. He was painfully conscious himself, as were all about
him, that at his years it is not well for man to be alone. He
remembered how before starting for Moscow he had once said to his
cowman Nikolay, a simple-hearted peasant, whom he liked talking
to: "Well, Nikolay! I mean to get married," and how Nikolay had
promptly answered, as of a matter on which there could be no
possible doubt: "And high time too, Konstantin Demitrievitch."
But marriage had now become further off than ever. The place was
taken, and whenever he tried to imagine any of the girls he knew
in that place, he felt that it was utterly impossible. Moreover,
the recollection of the rejection and the part he had played in
the affair tortured him with shame. However often he told
himself that he was in no wise to blame in it, that recollection,
like other humiliating reminiscences of a similar kind, made him
twinge and blush. There had been in his past, as in every man's,
actions, recognized by him as bad, for which his conscience ought
to have tormented him; but the memory of these evil actions was
far from causing him so much suffering as those trivial but
humiliating reminiscences. These wounds never healed. And with
these memories was now ranged his rejection and the pitiful
position in which he must have appeared to others that evening.
But time and work did their part. Bitter memories were more and
more covered up by the incidents--paltry in his eyes, but really
important--of his country life. Every week he thought less
often of Kitty. He was impatiently looking forward to the news
that she was married, or just going to be married, hoping that
such news would, like having a tooth out, completely cure him.

Meanwhile spring came on, beautiful and kindly, without the
delays and treacheries of spring,--one of those rare springs in
which plants, beasts, and man rejoice alike. This lovely spring
roused Levin still more, and strengthened him in his resolution
of renouncing all his past and building up his lonely life firmly
and independently. Though many of the plans with which he had
returned to the country had not been carried out, still his most
important resolution--that of purity--had been kept by him. He
was free from that shame, which had usually harassed him after a
fall; and he could look everyone straight in the face. In
February he had received a letter from Marya Nikolaevna telling
him that his brother Nikolay's health was getting worse, but that
he would not take advice, and in consequence of this letter Levin
went to Moscow to his brother's and succeeded in persuading him
to see a doctor and to go to a watering-place abroad. He
succeeded so well in persuading his brother, and in lending him
money for the journey without irritating him, that he was
satisfied with himself in that matter. In addition to his
farming, which called for special attention in spring, and in
addition to reading, Levin had begun that winter a work on
agriculture, the plan of which turned on taking into account the
character of the laborer on the land as one of the unalterable
data of the question, like the climate and the soil, and
consequently deducing all the principles of scientific culture,
not simply from the data of soil and climate, but from the data
of soil, climate, and a certain unalterable character of the
laborer. Thus, in spite of his solitude, or in consequence of
his solitude, his life was exceedingly full. Only rarely he
suffered from an unsatisfied desire to communicate his stray
ideas to someone besides Agafea Mihalovna. With her indeed he
not infrequently fell into discussion upon physics, the theory of
agriculture, and especially philosophy; philosophy was Agafea
Mihalovna's favorite subject.

Spring was slow in unfolding. For the last few weeks it had been
steadily fine frosty weather. In the daytime it thawed in the
sun, but at night there were even seven degrees of frost. There
was such a frozen surface on the snow that they drove the wagons
anywhere off the roads. Easter came in the snow. Then all of a
sudden, on Easter Monday, a warm wind sprang up, storm clouds
swooped down, and for three days and three nights the warm,
driving rain fell in streams. On Thursday the wind dropped, and
a thick gray fog brooded over the land as though hiding the
mysteries of the transformations that were being wrought in
nature. Behind the fog there was the flowing of water, the
cracking and floating of ice, the swift rush of turbid, foaming
torrents; and on the following Monday, in the evening, the fog
parted, the storm clouds split up into little curling crests of
cloud, the sky cleared, and the real spring had come. In the
morning the sun rose brilliant and quickly wore away the thin
layer of ice that covered the water, and all the warm air was
quivering with the steam that rose up from the quickened earth.
The old grass looked greener, and the young grass thrust up its
tiny blades; the buds of the guelder-rose and of the currant and
the sticky birch-buds were swollen with sap, and an exploring bee
was humming about the golden blossoms that studded the willow.
Larks trilled unseen above the velvety green fields and the
ice-covered stubble-land; peewits wailed over the low lands and
marshes flooded by the pools; cranes and wild geese flew high
across the sky uttering their spring calls. The cattle, bald in
patches where the new hair had not grown yet, lowed in the
pastures; the bowlegged lambs frisked round their bleating
mothers. Nimble children ran about the drying paths, covered
with the prints of bare feet. There was a merry chatter of
peasant women over their linen at the pond, and the ring of axes
in the yard, where the peasants were repairing ploughs and
harrows. The real spring had come.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Fiction - Russian literature
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