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Chapter 14


As he rode up to the house in the happiest frame of mind, Levin
heard the bell ring at the side of the principal entrance of the
house.

"Yes, that's someone from the railway station," he thought,
"just the time to be here from the Moscow train...Who could it
be? What if it's brother Nikolay? He did say: 'Maybe I'll go
to the waters, or maybe I'll come down to you.'" He felt
dismayed and vexed for the first minute, that his brother
Nikolay's presence should come to disturb his happy mood of
spring. But he felt ashamed of the feeling, and at once he
opened, as it were, the arms of his soul, and with a softened
feeling of joy and expectation, now he hoped with all his heart
that it was his brother. He pricked up his horse, and riding out
from behind the acacias he saw a hired three-horse sledge from
the railway station, and a gentleman in a fur coat. It was not
his brother. "Oh, if it were only some nice person one could
talk to a little!" he thought.

"Ah," cried Levin joyfully, flinging up both his hands. "Here's
a delightful visitor! Ah, how glad I am to see you!" he shouted,
recognizing Stepan Arkadyevitch.

"In shall find out for certain whether she's married, or when
she's going to be married," he thought. And on that delicious
spring day he felt that the thought of her did not hurt him at
all.

"Well, you didn't expect me, eh?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
getting out of the sledge, splashed with mud on the bridge of his
nose, on his cheek, and on his eyebrows, but radiant with health
and good spirits. "I've come to see you in the first place," he
said, embracing and kissing him, "to have some stand-shooting
second, and to sell the forest at Ergushovo third."

"Delightful! What a spring we're having! How ever did you get
along in a sledge?"

"In a cart it would have been worse still, Konstantin
Dmitrievitch," answered the driver, who knew him.

"Well, I'm very, very glad to see you," said Levin, with a
genuine smile of childlike delight.

Levin let his friend to the room set apart for visitors, where
Stepan Arkadyevitch's things were carried also--a bag, a gun in
a case, a satchel for cigars. Leaving him there to wash and
change his clothes, Levin went off to the counting house to speak
about the ploughing and clover. Agafea Mihalovna, always very
anxious for the credit of the house, met him in the hall with
inquiries about dinner.

"Do just as you like, only let it be as soon as possible," he
said, and went to the bailiff.

When he came back, Stepan Arkadyevitch, washed and combed, came
out of his room with a beaming smile, and they went upstairs
together.

"Well, I am glad I managed to get away to you! Now I shall
understand what the mysterious business is that you are always
absorbed in here. No, really, I envy you. What a house, how
nice it all is! So bright, so cheerful!" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, forgetting that it was not always spring and fine
weather like that day. "And your nurse is simply charming! A
pretty maid in an apron might be even more agreeable, perhaps;
but for your severe monastic style it does very well."

Stepan Arkadyevitch told him many interesting pieces of news;
especially interesting to Levin was the news that his brother,
Sergey Ivanovitch, was intending to pay him a visit in the
summer.

Not one word did Stepan Arkadyevitch say in reference to Kitty
and the Shtcherbatskys; he merely gave him greetings from his
wife. Levin was grateful to him for his delicacy and was very
glad of his visitor. As always happened with him during his
solitude, a mass of ideas and feelings had been accumulating
within him, which he could not communicate to those about him.
And now he poured out upon Stepan Arkadyevitch his poetic joy in
the spring, and his failures and plans for the land, and his
thoughts and criticisms on the books he had been reading, and the
idea of his own book, the basis of which really was, though he
was unaware of it himself, a criticism of all the old books on
agriculture. Stepan Arkadyevitch, always charming, understanding
everything at the slightest reference, was particularly charming
on this visit, and Levin noticed in him a special tenderness, as
it were, and a new tone of respect that flattered him.

The efforts of Agafea Mihalovna and the cook, that the dinner
should be particularly good, only ended in two famished friends
attacking the preliminary course, eating a great deal of bread
and butter, salt goose and salted mushrooms, and in Levin's
finally ordering the soup to be served without the accompaniment
of little pies, with which the cook had particularly meant to
impress their visitor. But though Stepan Arkadyevitch was
accustomed to very different dinners, he thought everything
excellent: the herb brandy, and the bread, and the butter, and
above all the salt goose and the mushrooms, and the nettle soup,
and the chicken in white sauce, and the white Crimean wine--
everything was superb and delicious.

"Splendid, splendid!" he said, lighting a fat cigar after the
roast. "I feel as if, coming to you, I had landed on a peaceful
shore after the noise and jolting of a steamer. And so you
maintain that the laborer himself is an element to be studied and
to regulate the choice of methods in agriculture. Of course, I'm
an ignorant outsider; but I should fancy theory and its
application will have its influence on the laborer too."

"Yes, but wait a bit. I'm not talking of political economy, I'm
talking of the science of agriculture. It ought to be like the
natural sciences, and to observe given phenomena and the laborer
in his economic, ethnographical..."

At that instant Agafea Mihalovna came in with jam.

"Oh, Agafea Mihalovna," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, kissing the
tips of his plump fingers, "what salt goose, what herb
brandy!...What do yo think, isn't it time to start, Kostya?" he
added.

Levin looked out of the window at the sun sinking behind the bare
tree-tops of the forest.

"Yes, it's time," he said. "Kouzma, get ready the trap," and he
ran downstairs.

Stepan Arkadyevitch, going down, carefully took the canvas cover
off his varnished gun case with his own hands, and opening it,
began to get ready his expensive new-fashioned gun. Kouzma, who
already scented a big tip, never left Stepan Arkadyevitch's side,
and put on him both his stockings and boots, a task which Stepan
Arkadyevitch readily left him.

"Kostya, give orders that if the merchant Ryabinin comes...I told
him to come today, he's to be brought in and to wait for me..."

"Why, do you mean to say you're selling the forest to Ryabinin?"

"Yes. Do you know him?"

"To be sure I do. I have had to do business with him,
'positively and conclusively.'"

Stepan Arkadyevitch laughed. "Positively and conclusively" were
the merchant's favorite words.

"Yes, it's wonderfully funny the way he talks. She knows where
her master's going!" he added, patting Laska, who hung about
Levin, whining and licking his hands, his boots, and his gun.

The trap was already at the steps when they went out.

"I told them to bring the trap round; or would you rather walk?"

"No, we'd better drive," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting into
the trap. He sat down, tucked the tiger-skin rug round him, and
lighted a cigar. "How is it you don't smoke? A cigar is a sort
of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign
of pleasure. Come, this is life! How splendid it is! This is
how In should like to live!"

"Why, who prevents you?" said Levin, smiling.

"No, you're a lucky man! You've got everything you like. You
like horses--and you have them; dogs--you have them; shooting--
you have it; farming--you have it."

"Perhaps because I rejoice in what I have, and don't fret for
what I haven't," said Levin, thinking of Kitty.

Stepan Arkadyevitch comprehended, looked at him, but said
nothing.

Levin was grateful to Oblonsky for noticing, with his
never-failing tact, that he dreaded conversation about the
Shtcherbatskys, and so saying nothing about them. But now Levin
was longing to find out what was tormenting him so, yet he had
not the courage to begin.

"Come, tell me how things are going with you," said Levin,
bethinking himself that it was not nice of him to think only of
himself.

Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes sparkled merrily.

"You don't admit, I know, that one can be fond of new rolls when
one has had one's rations of bread--to your mind it's a crime;
but I don't count life as life without love," he said, taking
Levin's question his own way. "What am I to do? I'm made that
way. And really, one does so little harm to anyone, and gives
oneself so much pleasure..."

"What! is there something new, then?" queried Levin.

"Yes, my boy, there is! There, do you see, you know the type of
Ossian's women.... Women, such as one sees in dreams.... Well,
these women are sometimes to be met in reality...and these women
are terrible. Woman, don't you know, is such a subject that
however much you study it, it's always perfectly new."

"Well, then, it would be better not to study it."

"No. Some mathematician has said that enjoyment lies in the
search for truth, not in the finding it."

Levin listened in silence, and in spite of all the efforts he
made, he could not in the least enter into the feelings of his
friend and understand his sentiments and the charm of studying
such women.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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