In the doorway the marshal of the province jostled against Levin.
"Beg pardon, excuse me, please," he said as to a stranger, but recognizing Levin, he smiled timidly. It seemed to Levin that he would have liked to say something, but could not speak for emotion. His face and his whole figure in his uniform with the crosses, and white trousers striped with braid, as he moved hurriedly along, reminded Levin of some hunted beast who sees that he is in evil case. This expression in the marshal's face was particularly touching to Levin, because, only the day before, he had been at his house about his trustee business and had seen him in all his grandeur, a kind-hearted, fatherly man. The big house with the old family furniture; the rather dirty, far from stylish, but respectful footmen, unmistakably old house serfs who had stuck to their master; the stout, good-natured wife in a cap with lace and a Turkish shawl, petting her pretty grandchild, her daughter's daughter; the young son, a sixth form high school boy, coming home from school, and greeting his father, kissing his big hand; the genuine, cordial words and gestures of the old man—all this had the day before roused an instinctive feeling of respect and sympathy in Levin. This old man was a touching and pathetic figure to Levin now, and he longed to say something pleasant to him.
"So you're sure to be our marshal again," he said.
"It's not likely," said the marshal, looking round with a scared expression. "I'm worn out, I'm old. If there are men younger and more deserving than I, let them serve."
And the marshal disappeared through a side door.
The most solemn moment was at hand. They were to proceed immediately to the election. The leaders of both parties were reckoning white and black on their fingers.
The discussion upon Flerov had given the new party not only Flerov's vote, but had also gained time for them, so that they could send to fetch three noblemen who had been rendered unable to take part in the elections by the wiles of the other party. Two noble gentlemen, who had a weakness for strong drink, had been made drunk by the partisans of Snetkov, and a third had been robbed of his uniform.
On learning this, the new party had made haste, during the dispute about Flerov, to send some of their men in a sledge to clothe the stripped gentleman, and to bring along one of the intoxicated to the meeting.
"I've brought one, drenched him with water," said the landowner, who had gone on this errand, to Sviazhsky. "He's all right? he'll do."
"Not too drunk, he won't fall down?" said Sviazhsky, shaking his head.
"No, he's first-rate. If only they don't give him any more here.... I've told the waiter not to give him anything on any account."
The narrow room, in which they were smoking and taking refreshments, was full of noblemen. The excitement grew more intense, and every face betrayed some uneasiness. The excitement was specially keen for the leaders of each party, who knew every detail, and had reckoned up every vote. They were the generals organizing the approaching battle. The rest, like the rank and file before an engagement, though they were getting ready for the fight, sought for other distractions in the interval. Some were lunching, standing at the bar, or sitting at the table; others were walking up and down the long room, smoking cigarettes, and talking with friends whom they had not seen for a long while.
Levin did not care to eat, and he was not smoking; he did not want to join his own friends, that is Sergey Ivanovitch, Stepan Arkadyevitch, Sviazhsky and the rest, because Vronsky in his equerry's uniform was standing with them in eager conversation. Levin had seen him already at the meeting on the previous day, and he had studiously avoided him, not caring to greet him. He went to the window and sat down, scanning the groups, and listening to what was being said around him. He felt depressed, especially because everyone else was, as he saw, eager, anxious, and interested, and he alone, with an old, toothless little man with mumbling lips wearing a naval uniform, sitting beside him, had no interest in it and nothing to do.
"He's such a blackguard! I have told him so, but it makes no difference. Only think of it! He couldn't collect it in three years!" he heard vigorously uttered by a round-shouldered, short, country gentleman, who had pomaded hair hanging on his embroidered collar, and new boots obviously put on for the occasion, with heels that tapped energetically as he spoke. Casting a displeased glance at Levin, this gentleman sharply turned his back.
"Yes, it's a dirty business, there's no denying," a small gentleman assented in a high voice.
Next, a whole crowd of country gentlemen, surrounding a stout general, hurriedly came near Levin. These persons were unmistakably seeking a place where they could talk without being overheard.
"How dare he say I had his breeches stolen! Pawned them for drink, I expect. Damn the fellow, prince indeed! He'd better not say it, the beast!"
"But excuse me! They take their stand on the act," was being said in another group; "the wife must be registered as noble."
"Oh, damn your acts! I speak from my heart. We're all gentlemen, aren't we? Above suspicion."
"Shall we go on, your excellency, fine champagne?"
Another group was following a nobleman, who was shouting something in a loud voice; it was one of the three intoxicated gentlemen.
"I always advised Marya Semyonovna to let for a fair rent, for she can never save a profit," he heard a pleasant voice say. The speaker was a country gentleman with gray whiskers, wearing the regimental uniform of an old general staff-officer. It was the very landowner Levin had met at Sviazhsky's. He knew him at once. The landowner too stared at Levin, and they exchanged greetings.
"Very glad to see you! To be sure! I remember you very well. Last year at our district marshal, Nikolay Ivanovitch's."
"Well, and how is your land doing?" asked Levin.
"Oh, still just the same, always at a loss," the landowner answered with a resigned smile, but with an expression of serenity and conviction that so it must be. "And how do you come to be in our province?" he asked. "Come to take part in our coup d'etat?" he said, confidently pronouncing the French words with a bad accent. "All Russia's here—gentlemen of the bedchamber, and everything short of the ministry." He pointed to the imposing figure of Stepan Arkadyevitch in white trousers and his court uniform, walking by with a general.
"I ought to own that I don't very well understand the drift of the provincial elections," said Levin.
The landowner looked at him.
"Why, what is there to understand? There's no meaning in it at all. It's a decaying institution that goes on running only by the force of inertia. Just look, the very uniforms tell you that it's an assembly of justices of the peace, permanent members of the court, and so on, but not of noblemen."
"Then why do you come?" asked Levin.
"From habit, nothing else. Then, too, one must keep up connections. It's a moral obligation of a sort. And then, to tell the truth, there's one's own interests. My son-in-law wants to stand as a permanent member; they're not rich people, and he must be brought forward. These gentlemen, now, what do they come for?" he said, pointing to the malignant gentleman, who was talking at the high table.
"That's the new generation of nobility."
"New it may be, but nobility it isn't. They're proprietors of a sort, but we're the landowners. As noblemen, they're cutting their own throats."
"But you say it's an institution that's served its time."
"That it may be, but still it ought to be treated a little more respectfully. Snetkov, now...We may be of use, or we may not, but we're the growth of a thousand years. If we're laying out a garden, planning one before the house, you know, and there you've a tree that's stood for centuries in the very spot.... Old and gnarled it may be, and yet you don't cut down the old fellow to make room for the flowerbeds, but lay out your beds so as to take advantage of the tree. You won't grow him again in a year," he said cautiously, and he immediately changed the conversation. "Well, and how is your land doing?"
"Oh, not very well. I make five per cent."
"Yes, but you don't reckon your own work. Aren't you worth something too? I'll tell you my own case. Before I took to seeing after the land, I had a salary of three hundred pounds from the service. Now I do more work than I did in the service, and like you I get five per cent. on the land, and thank God for that. But one's work is thrown in for nothing."
"Then why do you do it, if it's a clear loss?"
"Oh, well, one does it! What would you have? It's habit, and one knows it's how it should be. And what's more," the landowner went on, leaning his elbows on the window and chatting on, "my son, I must tell you, has no taste for it. There's no doubt he'll be a scientific man. So there'll be no one to keep it up. And yet one does it. Here this year I've planted an orchard."
"Yes, yes," said Levin, "that's perfectly true. I always feel there's no real balance of gain in my work on the land, and yet one does it.... It's a sort of duty one feels to the land."
"But I tell you what," the landowner pursued; "a neighbor of mine, a merchant, was at my place. We walked about the fields and the garden. 'No,' said he, 'Stepan Vassilievitch, everything's well looked after, but your garden's neglected.' But, as a fact, it's well kept up. 'To my thinking, I'd cut down that lime-tree. Here you've thousands of limes, and each would make two good bundles of bark. And nowadays that bark's worth something. I'd cut down the lot.'"
"And with what he made he'd increase his stock, or buy some land for a trifle, and let it out in lots to the peasants," Levin added, smiling. He had evidently more than once come across those commercial calculations. "And he'd make his fortune. But you and I must thank God if we keep what we've got and leave it to our children."
"You're married, I've heard?" said the landowner.
"Yes," Levin answered, with proud satisfaction. "Yes, it's rather strange," he went on. "So we live without making anything, as though we were ancient vestals set to keep in a fire."
The landowner chuckled under his white mustaches.
"There are some among us, too, like our friend Nikolay Ivanovitch, or Count Vronsky, that's settled here lately, who try to carry on their husbandry as though it were a factory; but so far it leads to nothing but making away with capital on it."
"But why is it we don't do like the merchants? Why don't we cut down our parks for timber?" said Levin, returning to a thought that had struck him.
"Why, as you said, to keep the fire in. Besides that's not work for a nobleman. And our work as noblemen isn't done here at the elections, but yonder, each in our corner. There's a class instinct, too, of what one ought and oughtn't to do. There's the peasants, too, I wonder at them sometimes; any good peasant tries to take all the land he can. However bad the land is, he'll work it. Without a return too. At a simple loss."
"Just as we do," said Levin. "Very, very glad to have met you," he added, seeing Sviazhsky approaching him.
"And here we've met for the first time since we met at your place," said the landowner to Sviazhsky, "and we've had a good talk too."
"Well, have you been attacking the new order of things?" said Sviazhsky with a smile.
"That we're bound to do."
"You've relieved your feelings?"
Sviazhsky took Levin's arm, and went with him to his own friends. This time there was no avoiding Vronsky. He was standing with Stepan Arkadyevitch and Sergey Ivanovitch, and looking straight at Levin as he drew near.
"Delighted! I believe I've had the pleasure of meeting you...at Princess Shtcherbatskaya's," he said, giving Levin his hand.
"Yes, I quite remember our meeting," said Levin, and blushing crimson, he turned away immediately, and began talking to his brother.
With a slight smile Vronsky went on talking to Sviazhsky, obviously without the slightest inclination to enter into conversation with Levin. But Levin, as he talked to his brother, was continually looking round at Vronsky, trying to think of something to say to him to gloss over his rudeness.
"What are we waiting for now?" asked Levin, looking at Sviazhsky and Vronsky.
"For Snetkov. He has to refuse or to consent to stand," answered Sviazhsky.
"Well, and what has he done, consented or not?"
"That's the point, that he's done neither," said Vronsky.
"And if he refuses, who will stand then?" asked Levin, looking at Vronsky.
"Whoever chooses to," said Sviazhsky.
"Shall you?" asked Levin.
"Certainly not I," said Sviazhsky, looking confused, and turning an alarmed glance at the malignant gentleman, who was standing beside Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Who then? Nevyedovsky?" said Levin, feeling he was putting his foot into it.
But this was worse still. Nevyedovsky and Sviazhsky were the two candidates.
"I certainly shall not, under any circumstances," answered the malignant gentleman.
This was Nevyedovsky himself. Sviazhsky introduced him to Levin.
"Well, you find it exciting too?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, winking at Vronsky. "It's something like a race. One might bet on it."
"Yes, it is keenly exciting," said Vronsky. "And once taking the thing up, one's eager to see it through. It's a fight!" he said, scowling and setting his powerful jaws.
"What a capable fellow Sviazhsky is! Sees it all so clearly."
"Oh, yes!" Vronsky assented indifferently.
A silence followed, during which Vronsky—since he had to look at something—looked at Levin, at his feet, at his uniform, then at his face, and noticing his gloomy eyes fixed upon him, he said, in order to say something:
"How is it that you, living constantly in the country, are not a justice of the peace? You are not in the uniform of one."
"It's because I consider that the justice of the peace is a silly institution," Levin answered gloomily. He had been all the time looking for an opportunity to enter into conversation with Vronsky, so as to smooth over his rudeness at their first meeting.
"I don't think so, quite the contrary," Vronsky said, with quiet surprise.
"It's a plaything," Levin cut him short. "We don't want justices of the peace. I've never had a single thing to do with them during eight years. And what I have had was decided wrongly by them. The justice of the peace is over thirty miles from me. For some matter of two roubles I should have to send a lawyer, who costs me fifteen."
And he related how a peasant had stolen some flour from the miller, and when the miller told him of it, had lodged a complaint for slander. All this was utterly uncalled for and stupid, and Levin felt it himself as he said it.
"Oh, this is such an original fellow!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with his most soothing, almond-oil smile. "But come along; I think they're voting...."
And they separated.
"I can't understand," said Sergey Ivanovitch, who had observed his brother's clumsiness, "I can't understand how anyone can be so absolutely devoid of political tact. That's where we Russians are so deficient. The marshal of the province is our opponent, and with him you're ami cochon, and you beg him to stand. Count Vronsky, now ...I'm not making a friend of him; he's asked me to dinner, and I'm not going; but he's one of our side—why make an enemy of him? Then you ask Nevyedovsky if he's going to stand. That's not a thing to do."
"Oh, I don't understand it at all! And it's all such nonsense," Levin answered gloomily.
"You say it's all such nonsense, but as soon as you have anything to do with it, you make a muddle."
Levin did not answer, and they walked together into the big room.
The marshal of the province, though he was vaguely conscious in the air of some trap being prepared for him, and though he had not been called upon by all to stand, had still made up his mind to stand. All was silence in the room. The secretary announced in a loud voice that the captain of the guards, Mihail Stepanovitch Snetkov, would now be balloted for as marshal of the province.
The district marshals walked carrying plates, on which were balls, from their tables to the high table, and the election began.
"Put it in the right side," whispered Stepan Arkadyevitch, as with his brother Levin followed the marshal of his district to the table. But Levin had forgotten by now the calculations that had been explained to him, and was afraid Stepan Arkadyevitch might be mistaken in saying "the right side." Surely Snetkov was the enemy. As he went up, he held the ball in his right hand, but thinking he was wrong, just at the box he changed to the left hand, and undoubtedly put the ball to the left. An adept in the business, standing at the box and seeing by the mere action of the elbow where each put his ball, scowled with annoyance. It was no good for him to use his insight.
Everything was still, and the counting of the balls was heard. Then a single voice rose and proclaimed the numbers for and against. The marshal had been voted for by a considerable majority. All was noise and eager movement towards the doors. Snetkov came in, and the nobles thronged round him, congratulating him.
"Well, now is it over?" Levin asked Sergey Ivanovitch.
"It's only just beginning," Sviazhsky said, replying for Sergey Ivanovitch with a smile. "Some other candidate may receive more votes than the marshal."
Levin had quite forgotten about that. Now he could only remember that there was some sort of trickery in it, but he was too bored to think what it was exactly. He felt depressed, and longed to get out of the crowd.
As no one was paying any attention to him, and no one apparently needed him, he quietly slipped away into the little room where the refreshments were, and again had a great sense of comfort when he saw the waiters. The little old waiter pressed him to have something, and Levin agreed. After eating a cutlet with beans and talking to the waiters of their former masters, Levin, not wishing to go back to the hall, where it was all so distasteful to him, proceeded to walk through the galleries. The galleries were full of fashionably dressed ladies, leaning over the balustrade and trying not to lose a single word of what was being said below. With the ladies were sitting and standing smart lawyers, high school teachers in spectacles, and officers. Everywhere they were talking of the election, and of how worried the marshal was, and how splendid the discussions had been. In one group Levin heard his brother's praises. One lady was telling a lawyer:
"How glad I am I heard Koznishev! It's worth losing one's dinner. He's exquisite! So clear and distinct all of it! There's not one of you in the law courts that speaks like that. The only one is Meidel, and he's not so eloquent by a long way."
Finding a free place, Levin leaned over the balustrade and began looking and listening.
All the noblemen were sitting railed off behind barriers according to their districts. In the middle of the room stood a man in a uniform, who shouted in a loud, high voice:
"As a candidate for the marshalship of the nobility of the province we call upon staff-captain Yevgeney Ivanovitch Apuhtin!" A dead silence followed, and then a weak old voice was heard: "Declined!"
"We call upon the privy councilor Pyotr Petrovitch Bol," the voice began again.
"Declined!" a high boyish voice replied.
Again it began, and again "Declined." And so it went on for about an hour. Levin, with his elbows on the balustrade, looked and listened. At first he wondered and wanted to know what it meant; then feeling sure that he could not make it out he began to be bored. Then recalling all the excitement and vindictiveness he had seen on all the faces, he felt sad; he made up his mind to go, and went downstairs. As he passed through the entry to the galleries he met a dejected high school boy walking up and down with tired-looking eyes. On the stairs he met a couple—a lady running quickly on her high heels and the jaunty deputy prosecutor.
"I told you you weren't late," the deputy prosecutor was saying at the moment when Levin moved aside to let the lady pass.
Levin was on the stairs to the way out, and was just feeling in his waistcoat pocket for the number of his overcoat, when the secretary overtook him.
"This way, please, Konstantin Dmitrievitch; they are voting."
The candidate who was being voted on was Nevyedovsky, who had so stoutly denied all idea of standing. Levin went up to the door of the room; it was locked. The secretary knocked, the door opened, and Levin was met by two red-faced gentlemen, who darted out.
"I can't stand any more of it," said one red-faced gentleman.
After them the face of the marshal of the province was poked out. His face was dreadful-looking from exhaustion and dismay.
"I told you not to let any one out!" he cried to the doorkeeper.
"I let someone in, your excellency!"
"Mercy on us!" and with a heavy sigh the marshal of the province walked with downcast head to the high table in the middle of the room, his legs staggering in his white trousers.
Nevyedovsky had scored a higher majority, as they had planned, and he was the new marshal of the province. Many people were amused, many were pleased and happy, many were in ecstasies, many were disgusted and unhappy. The former marshal of the province was in a state of despair, which he could not conceal. When Nevyedovsky went out of the room, the crowd thronged round him and followed him enthusiastically, just as they had followed the governor who had opened the meetings, and just as they had followed Snetkov when he was elected.
The newly elected marshal and many of the successful party dined that day with Vronsky.
Vronsky had come to the elections partly because he was bored in the country and wanted to show Anna his right to independence, and also to repay Sviazhsky by his support at the election for all the trouble he had taken for Vronsky at the district council election, but chiefly in order strictly to perform all those duties of a nobleman and landowner which he had taken upon himself. But he had not in the least expected that the election would so interest him, so keenly excite him, and that he would be so good at this kind of thing. He was quite a new man in the circle of the nobility of the province, but his success was unmistakable, and he was not wrong in supposing that he had already obtained a certain influence. This influence was due to his wealth and reputation, the capital house in the town lent him by his old friend Shirkov, who had a post in the department of finances and was director of a flourishing bank in Kashin; the excellent cook Vronsky had brought from the country, and his friendship with the governor, who was a schoolfellow of Vronsky's—a schoolfellow he had patronized and protected indeed. But what contributed more than all to his success was his direct, equable manner with everyone, which very quickly made the majority of the noblemen reverse the current opinion of his supposed haughtiness. He was himself conscious that, except that whimsical gentleman married to Kitty Shtcherbatskaya, who had a propos de bottes poured out a stream of irrelevant absurdities with such spiteful fury, every nobleman with whom he had made acquaintance had become his adherent. He saw clearly, and other people recognized it, too, that he had done a great deal to secure the success of Nevyedovsky. And now at his own table, celebrating Nevyedovsky's election, he was experiencing an agreeable sense of triumph over the success of his candidate. The election itself had so fascinated him that, if he could succeed in getting married during the next three years, he began to think of standing himself—much as after winning a race ridden by a jockey, he had longed to ride a race himself.
Today he was celebrating the success of his jockey. Vronsky sat at the head of the table, on his right hand sat the young governor, a general of high rank. To all the rest he was the chief man in the province, who had solemnly opened the elections with his speech, and aroused a feeling of respect and even of awe in many people, as Vronsky saw; to Vronsky he was little Katka Maslov—that had been his nickname in the Pages' Corps—whom he felt to be shy and tried to mettre a son aise. On the left hand sat Nevyedovsky with his youthful, stubborn, and malignant face. With him Vronsky was simple and deferential.
Sviazhsky took his failure very light-heartedly. It was indeed no failure in his eyes, as he said himself, turning, glass in hand, to Nevyedovsky; they could not have found a better representative of the new movement, which the nobility ought to follow. And so every honest person, as he said, was on the side of today's success and was rejoicing over it.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was glad, too, that he was having a good time, and that everyone was pleased. The episode of the elections served as a good occasion for a capital dinner. Sviazhsky comically imitated the tearful discourse of the marshal, and observed, addressing Nevyedovsky, that his excellency would have to select another more complicated method of auditing the accounts than tears. Another nobleman jocosely described how footmen in stockings had been ordered for the marshal's ball, and how now they would have to be sent back unless the new marshal would give a ball with footmen in stockings.
Continually during dinner they said of Nevyedovsky: "our marshal," and "your excellency."
This was said with the same pleasure with which a bride is called "Madame" and her husband's name. Nevyedovsky affected to be not merely indifferent but scornful of this appellation, but it was obvious that he was highly delighted, and had to keep a curb on himself not to betray the triumph which was unsuitable to their new liberal tone.
After dinner several telegrams were sent to people interested in the result of the election. And Stepan Arkadyevitch, who was in high good humor, sent Darya Alexandrovna a telegram: "Nevyedovsky elected by twenty votes. Congratulations. Tell people." He dictated it aloud, saying: "We must let them share our rejoicing." Darya Alexandrovna, getting the message, simply sighed over the rouble wasted on it, and understood that it was an after-dinner affair. She knew Stiva had a weakness after dining for faire jouer le telegraphe.
Everything, together with the excellent dinner and the wine, not from Russian merchants, but imported direct from abroad, was extremely dignified, simple, and enjoyable. The party—some twenty—had been selected by Sviazhsky from among the more active new liberals, all of the same way of thinking, who were at the same time clever and well bred. They drank, also half in jest, to the health of the new marshal of the province, of the governor, of the bank director, and of "our amiable host."
Vronsky was satisfied. He had never expected to find so pleasant a tone in the provinces.
Towards the end of dinner it was still more lively. The governor asked Vronsky to come to a concert for the benefit of the Servians which his wife, who was anxious to make his acquaintance, had been getting up.
"There'll be a ball, and you'll see the belle of the province. Worth seeing, really."
"Not in my line," Vronsky answered. He liked that English phrase. But he smiled, and promised to come.
Before they rose from the table, when all of them were smoking, Vronsky's valet went up to him with a letter on a tray.
"From Vozdvizhenskoe by special messenger," he said with a significant expression.
"Astonishing! how like he is to the deputy prosecutor Sventitsky," said one of the guests in French of the valet, while Vronsky, frowning, read the letter.
The letter was from Anna. Before he read the letter, he knew its contents. Expecting the elections to be over in five days, he had promised to be back on Friday. Today was Saturday, and he knew that the letter contained reproaches for not being back at the time fixed. The letter he had sent the previous evening had probably not reached her yet.
The letter was what he had expected, but the form of it was unexpected, and particularly disagreeable to him. "Annie is very ill, the doctor says it may be inflammation. I am losing my head all alone. Princess Varvara is no help, but a hindrance. I expected you the day before yesterday, and yesterday, and now I am sending to find out where you are and what you are doing. I wanted to come myself, but thought better of it, knowing you would dislike it. Send some answer, that I may know what to do."
The child ill, yet she had thought of coming herself. Their daughter ill, and this hostile tone.
The innocent festivities over the election, and this gloomy, burdensome love to which he had to return struck Vronsky by their contrast. But he had to go, and by the first train that night he set off home.
Before Vronsky's departure for the elections, Anna had reflected that the scenes constantly repeated between them each time he left home, might only make him cold to her instead of attaching him to her, and resolved to do all she could to control herself so as to bear the parting with composure. But the cold, severe glance with which he had looked at her when he came to tell her he was going had wounded her, and before he had started her peace of mind was destroyed.
In solitude afterwards, thinking over that glance which had expressed his right to freedom, she came, as she always did, to the same point—the sense of her own humiliation. "He has the right to go away when and where he chooses. Not simply to go away, but to leave me. He has every right, and I have none. But knowing that, he ought not to do it. What has he done, though?... He looked at me with a cold, severe expression. Of course that is something indefinable, impalpable, but it has never been so before, and that glance means a great deal," she thought. "That glance shows the beginning of indifference."
And though she felt sure that a coldness was beginning, there was nothing she could do, she could not in any way alter her relations to him. Just as before, only by love and by charm could she keep him. And so, just as before, only by occupation in the day, by morphine at night, could she stifle the fearful thought of what would be if he ceased to love her. It is true there was still one means; not to keep him—for that she wanted nothing more than his love—but to be nearer to him, to be in such a position that he would not leave her. That means was divorce and marriage. And she began to long for that, and made up her mind to agree to it the first time he or Stiva approached her on the subject.
Absorbed in such thoughts, she passed five days without him, the five days that he was to be at the elections.
Walks, conversation with Princess Varvara, visits to the hospital, and, most of all, reading—reading of one book after another—filled up her time. But on the sixth day, when the coachman came back without him, she felt that now she was utterly incapable of stifling the thought of him and of what he was doing there, just at that time her little girl was taken ill. Anna began to look after her, but even that did not distract her mind, especially as the illness was not serious. However hard she tried, she could not love this little child, and to feign love was beyond her powers. Towards the evening of that day, still alone, Anna was in such a panic about him that she decided to start for the town, but on second thoughts wrote him the contradictory letter that Vronsky received, and without reading it through, sent it off by a special messenger. The next morning she received his letter and regretted her own. She dreaded a repetition of the severe look he had flung at her at parting, especially when he knew that the baby was not dangerously ill. But still she was glad she had written to him. At this moment Anna was positively admitting to herself that she was a burden to him, that he would relinquish his freedom regretfully to return to her, and in spite of that she was glad he was coming. Let him weary of her, but he would be here with her, so that she would see him, would know of every action he took.
She was sitting in the drawing room near a lamp, with a new volume of Taine, and as she read, listening to the sound of the wind outside, and every minute expecting the carriage to arrive. Several times she had fancied she heard the sound of wheels, but she had been mistaken. At last she heard not the sound of wheels, but the coachman's shout and the dull rumble in the covered entry. Even Princess Varvara, playing patience, confirmed this, and Anna, flushing hotly, got up; but instead of going down, as she had done twice before, she stood still. She suddenly felt ashamed of her duplicity, but even more she dreaded how he might meet her. All feeling of wounded pride had passed now; she was only afraid of the expression of his displeasure. She remembered that her child had been perfectly well again for the last two days. She felt positively vexed with her for getting better from the very moment her letter was sent off. Then she thought of him, that he was here, all of him, with his hands, his eyes. She heard his voice. And forgetting everything, she ran joyfully to meet him.
"Well, how is Annie?" he said timidly from below, looking up to Anna as she ran down to him.
He was sitting on a chair, and a footman was pulling off his warm over-boot.
"Oh, she is better."
"And you?" he said, shaking himself.
She took his hand in both of hers, and drew it to her waist, never taking her eyes off him.
"Well, I'm glad," he said, coldly scanning her, her hair, her dress, which he knew she had put on for him. All was charming, but how many times it had charmed him! And the stern, stony expression that she so dreaded settled upon his face.
"Well, I'm glad. And are you well?" he said, wiping his damp beard with his handkerchief and kissing her hand.
"Never mind," she thought, "only let him be here, and so long as he's here he cannot, he dare not, cease to love me."
The evening was spent happily and gaily in the presence of Princess Varvara, who complained to him that Anna had been taking morphine in his absence.
"What am I to do? I couldn't sleep.... My thoughts prevented me. When he's here I never take it—hardly ever."
He told her about the election, and Anna knew how by adroit questions to bring him to what gave him most pleasure—his own success. She told him of everything that interested him at home; and all that she told him was of the most cheerful description.
But late in the evening, when they were alone, Anna, seeing that she had regained complete possession of him, wanted to erase the painful impression of the glance he had given her for her letter. She said:
"Tell me frankly, you were vexed at getting my letter, and you didn't believe me?"
As soon as she had said it, she felt that however warm his feelings were to her, he had not forgiven her for that.
"Yes," he said, "the letter was so strange. First, Annie ill, and then you thought of coming yourself."
"It was all the truth."
"Oh, I don't doubt it."
"Yes, you do doubt it. You are vexed, I see."
"Not for one moment. I'm only vexed, that's true, that you seem somehow unwilling to admit that there are duties..."
"The duty of going to a concert..."
"But we won't talk about it," he said.
"Why not talk about it?" she said.
"I only meant to say that matters of real importance may turn up. Now, for instance, I shall have to go to Moscow to arrange about the house.... Oh, Anna, why are you so irritable? Don't you know that I can't live without you?"
"If so," said Anna, her voice suddenly changing, "it means that you are sick of this life.... Yes, you will come for a day and go away, as men do..."
"Anna, that's cruel. I am ready to give up my whole life."
But she did not hear him.
"If you go to Moscow, I will go too. I will not stay here. Either we must separate or else live together."
"Why, you know, that's my one desire. But for that..."
"We must get a divorce. I will write to him. I see I cannot go on like this.... But I will come with you to Moscow."
"You talk as if you were threatening me. But I desire nothing so much as never to be parted from you," said Vronsky, smiling.
But as he said these words there gleamed in his eyes not merely a cold look, but the vindictive look of a man persecuted and made cruel.
She saw the look and correctly divined its meaning.
"If so, it's a calamity!" that glance told her. It was a moment's impression, but she never forgot it.
Anna wrote to her husband asking him about a divorce, and towards the end of November, taking leave of Princess Varvara, who wanted to go to Petersburg, she went with Vronsky to Moscow. Expecting every day an answer from Alexey Alexandrovitch, and after that the divorce, they now established themselves together like married people.
The Levins had been three months in Moscow. The date had long passed on which, according to the most trustworthy calculations of people learned in such matters, Kitty should have been confined. But she was still about, and there was nothing to show that her time was any nearer than two months ago. The doctor, the monthly nurse, and Dolly and her mother, and most of all Levin, who could not think of the approaching event without terror, began to be impatient and uneasy. Kitty was the only person who felt perfectly calm and happy.
She was distinctly conscious now of the birth of a new feeling of love for the future child, for her to some extent actually existing already, and she brooded blissfully over this feeling. He was not by now altogether a part of herself, but sometimes lived his own life independently of her. Often this separate being gave her pain, but at the same time she wanted to laugh with a strange new joy.
All the people she loved were with her, and all were so good to her, so attentively caring for her, so entirely pleasant was everything presented to her, that if she had not known and felt that it must all soon be over, she could not have wished for a better and pleasanter life. The only thing that spoiled the charm of this manner of life was that her husband was not here as she loved him to be, and as he was in the country.
She liked his serene, friendly, and hospitable manner in the country. In the town he seemed continually uneasy and on his guard, as though he were afraid someone would be rude to him, and still more to her. At home in the country, knowing himself distinctly to be in his right place, he was never in haste to be off elsewhere. He was never unoccupied. Here in town he was in a continual hurry, as though afraid of missing something, and yet he had nothing to do. And she felt sorry for him. To others, she knew, he did not appear an object of pity. On the contrary, when Kitty looked at him in society, as one sometimes looks at those one loves, trying to see him as if he were a stranger, so as to catch the impression he must make on others, she saw with a panic even of jealous fear that he was far indeed from being a pitiable figure, that he was very attractive with his fine breeding, his rather old-fashioned, reserved courtesy with women, his powerful figure, and striking, as she thought, and expressive face. But she saw him not from without, but from within; she saw that here he was not himself; that was the only way she could define his condition to herself. Sometimes she inwardly reproached him for his inability to live in the town; sometimes she recognized that it was really hard for him to order his life here so that he could be satisfied with it.
What had he to do, indeed? He did not care for cards; he did not go to a club. Spending the time with jovial gentlemen of Oblonsky's type—she knew now what that meant...it meant drinking and going somewhere after drinking. She could not think without horror of where men went on such occasions. Was he to go into society? But she knew he could only find satisfaction in that if he took pleasure in the society of young women, and that she could not wish for. Should he stay at home with her, her mother and her sisters? But much as she liked and enjoyed their conversations forever on the same subjects—"Aline-Nadine," as the old prince called the sisters' talks—she knew it must bore him. What was there left for him to do? To go on writing at his book he had indeed attempted, and at first he used to go to the library and make extracts and look up references for his book. But, as he told her, the more he did nothing, the less time he had to do anything. And besides, he complained that he had talked too much about his book here, and that consequently all his ideas about it were muddled and had lost their interest for him.
One advantage in this town life was that quarrels hardly ever happened between them here in town. Whether it was that their conditions were different, or that they had both become more careful and sensible in that respect, they had no quarrels in Moscow from jealousy, which they had so dreaded when they moved from the country.
One event, an event of great importance to both from that point of view, did indeed happen—that was Kitty's meeting with Vronsky.
The old Princess Marya Borissovna, Kitty's godmother, who had always been very fond of her, had insisted on seeing her. Kitty, though she did not go into society at all on account of her condition, went with her father to see the venerable old lady, and there met Vronsky.
The only thing Kitty could reproach herself for at this meeting was that at the instant when she recognized in his civilian dress the features once so familiar to her, her breath failed her, the blood rushed to her heart, and a vivid blush—she felt it— overspread her face. But this lasted only a few seconds. Before her father, who purposely began talking in a loud voice to Vronsky, had finished, she was perfectly ready to look at Vronsky, to speak to him, if necessary, exactly as she spoke to Princess Marya Borissovna, and more than that, to do so in such a way that everything to the faintest intonation and smile would have been approved by her husband, whose unseen presence she seemed to feel about her at that instant.
She said a few words to him, even smiled serenely at his joke about the elections, which he called "our parliament." (She had to smile to show she saw the joke.) But she turned away immediately to Princess Marya Borissovna, and did not once glance at him till he got up to go; then she looked at him, but evidently only because it would be uncivil not to look at a man when he is saying good-bye.
She was grateful to her father for saying nothing to her about their meeting Vronsky, but she saw by his special warmth to her after the visit during their usual walk that he was pleased with her. She was pleased with herself. She had not expected she would have had the power, while keeping somewhere in the bottom of her heart all the memories of her old feeling for Vronsky, not only to seem but to be perfectly indifferent and composed with him.
Levin flushed a great deal more than she when she told him she had met Vronsky at Princess Marya Borissovna's. It was very hard for her to tell him this, but still harder to go on speaking of the details of the meeting, as he did not question her, but simply gazed at her with a frown.
"I am very sorry you weren't there," she said. "Not that you weren't in the room...I couldn't have been so natural in your presence...I am blushing now much more, much, much more," she said, blushing till the tears came into her eyes. "But that you couldn't see through a crack."
The truthful eyes told Levin that she was satisfied with herself, and in spite of her blushing he was quickly reassured and began questioning her, which was all she wanted. When he had heard everything, even to the detail that for the first second she could not help flushing, but that afterwards she was just as direct and as much at her ease as with any chance acquaintance, Levin was quite happy again and said he was glad of it, and would not now behave as stupidly as he had done at the election, but would try the first time he met Vronsky to be as friendly as possible.
"It's so wretched to feel that there's a man almost an enemy whom it's painful to meet," said Levin. "I'm very, very glad."
"Go, please, go then and call on the Bols," Kitty said to her husband, when he came in to see her at eleven o'clock before going out. "I know you are dining at the club; papa put down your name. But what are you going to do in the morning?"
"I am only going to Katavasov," answered Levin.
"Why so early?"
"He promised to introduce me to Metrov. I wanted to talk to him about my work. He's a distinguished scientific man from Petersburg," said Levin.
"Yes; wasn't it his article you were praising so? Well, and after that?" said Kitty.
"I shall go to the court, perhaps, about my sister's business."
"And the concert?" she queried.
"I shan't go there all alone."
"No? do go; there are going to be some new things.... That interested you so. I should certainly go."
"Well, anyway, I shall come home before dinner," he said, looking at his watch.
"Put on your frock coat, so that you can go straight to call on Countess Bola."
"But is it absolutely necessary?"
"Oh, absolutely! He has been to see us. Come, what is it? You go in, sit down, talk for five minutes of the weather, get up and go away."
"Oh, you wouldn't believe it! I've got so out of the way of all this that it makes me feel positively ashamed. It's such a horrible thing to do! A complete outsider walks in, sits down, stays on with nothing to do, wastes their time and worries himself, and walks away!"
"Why, I suppose you used to pay calls before you were married, didn't you?"
"Yes, I did, but I always felt ashamed, and now I'm so out of the way of it that, by Jove! I'd sooner go two days running without my dinner than pay this call! One's so ashamed! I feel all the while that they're annoyed, that they're saying, 'What has he come for?'"
"No, they won't. I'll answer for that," said Kitty, looking into his face with a laugh. She took his hand. "Well, good-bye.... Do go, please."
He was just going out after kissing his wife's hand, when she stopped him.
"Kostya, do you know I've only fifty roubles left?"
"Oh, all right, I'll go to the bank and get some. How much?" he said, with the expression of dissatisfaction she knew so well.
"No, wait a minute." She held his hand. "Let's talk about it, it worries me. I seem to spend nothing unnecessary, but money seems to fly away simply. We don't manage well, somehow."
"Oh, it's all right," he said with a little cough, looking at her from under his brows.
That cough she knew well. It was a sign of intense dissatisfaction, not with her, but with himself. He certainly was displeased not at so much money being spent, but at being reminded of what he, knowing something was unsatisfactory, wanted to forget.
"I have told Sokolov to sell the wheat, and to borrow an advance on the mill. We shall have money enough in any case."
"Yes, but I'm afraid that altogether..."
"Oh, it's all right, all right," he repeated. "Well, good-bye, darling."
"No, I'm really sorry sometimes that I listened to mamma. How nice it would have been in the country! As it is, I'm worrying you all, and we're wasting our money."
"Not at all, not at all. Not once since I've been married have I said that things could have been better than they are...."
"Truly?" she said, looking into his eyes.
He had said it without thinking, simply to console her. But when he glanced at her and saw those sweet truthful eyes fastened questioningly on him, he repeated it with his whole heart. "I was positively forgetting her," he thought. And he remembered what was before them, so soon to come.
"Will it be soon? How do you feel?" he whispered, taking her two hands.
"I have so often thought so, that now I don't think about it or know anything about it."
"And you're not frightened?"
She smiled contemptuously.
"Not the least little bit," she said.
"Well, if anything happens, I shall be at Katavasov's."
"No, nothing will happen, and don't think about it. I'm going for a walk on the boulevard with papa. We're going to see Dolly. I shall expect you before dinner. Oh, yes! Do you know that Dolly's position is becoming utterly impossible? She's in debt all round; she hasn't a penny. We were talking yesterday with mamma and Arseny" (this was her sister's husband Lvov), "and we determined to send you with him to talk to Stiva. It's really unbearable. One can't speak to papa about it.... But if you and he..."
"Why, what can we do?" said Levin.
"You'll be at Arseny's, anyway; talk to him, he will tell what we decided."
"Oh, I agree to everything Arseny thinks beforehand. I'll go and see him. By the way, if I do go to the concert, I'll go with Natalia. Well, good-bye."
On the steps Levin was stopped by his old servant Kouzma, who had been with him before his marriage, and now looked after their household in town.
"Beauty" (that was the left shaft-horse brought up from the country) "has been badly shod and is quite lame," he said. "What does your honor wish to be done?"
During the first part of their stay in Moscow, Levin had used his own horses brought up from the country. He had tried to arrange this part of their expenses in the best and cheapest way possible; but it appeared that their own horses came dearer than hired horses, and they still hired too.
"Send for the veterinary, there may be a bruise."
"And for Katerina Alexandrovna?" asked Kouzma.
Levin was not by now struck as he had been at first by the fact that to get from one end of Moscow to the other he had to have two powerful horses put into a heavy carriage, to take the carriage three miles through the snowy slush and to keep it standing there four hours, paying five roubles every time.
Now it seemed quite natural.
"Hire a pair for our carriage from the jobmaster," said he.
And so, simply and easily, thanks to the facilities of town life, Levin settled a question which, in the country, would have called for so much personal trouble and exertion, and going out onto the steps, he called a sledge, sat down, and drove to Nikitsky. On the way he thought no more of money, but mused on the introduction that awaited him to the Petersburg savant, a writer on sociology, and what he would say to him about his book.
Only during the first days of his stay in Moscow Levin had been struck by the expenditure, strange to one living in the country, unproductive but inevitable, that was expected of him on every side. But by now he had grown used to it. That had happened to him in this matter which is said to happen to drunkards—the first glass sticks in the throat, the second flies down like a hawk, but after the third they're like tiny little birds. When Levin had changed his first hundred-rouble note to pay for liveries for his footmen and hall-porter he could not help reflecting that these liveries were of no use to anyone—but they were indubitably necessary, to judge by the amazement of the princess and Kitty when he suggested that they might do without liveries,—that these liveries would cost the wages of two laborers for the summer, that is, would pay for about three hundred working days from Easter to Ash Wednesday, and each a day of hard work from early morning to late evening—and that hundred-rouble note did stick in his throat. But the next note, changed to pay for providing a dinner for their relations, that cost twenty-eight roubles, though it did excite in Levin the reflection that twenty-eight roubles meant nine measures of oats, which men would with groans and sweat have reaped and bound and thrashed and winnowed and sifted and sown,—this next one he parted with more easily. And now the notes he changed no longer aroused such reflections, and they flew off like little birds. Whether the labor devoted to obtaining the money corresponded to the pleasure given by what was bought with it, was a consideration he had long ago dismissed. His business calculation that there was a certain price below which he could not sell certain grain was forgotten too. The rye, for the price of which he had so long held out, had been sold for fifty kopecks a measure cheaper than it had been fetching a month ago. Even the consideration that with such an expenditure he could not go on living for a year without debt, that even had no force. Only one thing was essential: to have money in the bank, without inquiring where it came from, so as to know that one had the wherewithal to buy meat for tomorrow. And this condition had hitherto been fulfilled; he had always had the money in the bank. But now the money in the bank had gone, and he could not quite tell where to get the next installment. And this it was which, at the moment when Kitty had mentioned money, had disturbed him; but he had no time to think about it. He drove off, thinking of Katavasov and the meeting with Metrov that was before him.
Levin had on this visit to town seen a great deal of his old friend at the university, Professor Katavasov, whom he had not seen since his marriage. He liked in Katavasov the clearness and simplicity of his conception of life. Levin thought that the clearness of Katavasov's conception of life was due to the poverty of his nature; Katavasov thought that the disconnectedness of Levin's ideas was due to his lack of intellectual discipline; but Levin enjoyed Katavasov's clearness, and Katavasov enjoyed the abundance of Levin's untrained ideas, and they liked to meet and to discuss.
Levin had read Katavasov some parts of his book, and he had liked them. On the previous day Katavasov had met Levin at a public lecture and told him that the celebrated Metrov, whose article Levin had so much liked, was in Moscow, that he had been much interested by what Katavasov had told him about Levin's work, and that he was coming to see him tomorrow at eleven, and would be very glad to make Levin's acquaintance.
"You're positively a reformed character, I'm glad to see," said Katavasov, meeting Levin in the little drawing room. "I heard the bell and thought: Impossible that it can be he at the exact time!... Well, what do you say to the Montenegrins now? They're a race of warriors."
"Why, what's happened?" asked Levin.
Katavasov in a few words told him the last piece of news from the war, and going into his study, introduced Levin to a short, thick-set man of pleasant appearance. This was Metrov. The conversation touched for a brief space on politics and on how recent events were looked at in the higher spheres in Petersburg. Metrov repeated a saying that had reached him through a most trustworthy source, reported as having been uttered on this subject by the Tsar and one of the ministers. Katavasov had heard also on excellent authority that the Tsar had said something quite different. Levin tried to imagine circumstances in which both sayings might have been uttered, and the conversation on that topic dropped.
"Yes, here he's written almost a book on the natural conditions of the laborer in relation to the land," said Katavasov; "I'm not a specialist, but I, as a natural science man, was pleased at his not taking mankind as something outside biological laws; but, on the contrary, seeing his dependence on his surroundings, and in that dependence seeking the laws of his development."
"That's very interesting," said Metrov.
"What I began precisely was to write a book on agriculture; but studying the chief instrument of agriculture, the laborer," said Levin, reddening, "I could not help coming to quite unexpected results."
And Levin began carefully, as it were, feeling his ground, to expound his views. He knew Metrov had written an article against the generally accepted theory of political economy, but to what extent he could reckon on his sympathy with his own new views he did not know and could not guess from the clever and serene face of the learned man.
"But in what do you see the special characteristics of the Russian laborer?" said Metrov; "in his biological characteristics, so to speak, or in the condition in which he is placed?"
Levin saw that there was an idea underlying this question with which he did not agree. But he went on explaining his own idea that the Russian laborer has a quite special view of the land, different from that of other people; and to support this proposition he made haste to add that in his opinion this attitude of the Russian peasant was due to the consciousness of his vocation to people vast unoccupied expanses in the East.
"One may easily be led into error in basing any conclusion on the general vocation of a people," said Metrov, interrupting Levin. "The condition of the laborer will always depend on his relation to the land and to capital."
And without letting Levin finish explaining his idea, Metrov began expounding to him the special point of his own theory.
In what the point of his theory lay, Levin did not understand, because he did not take the trouble to understand. He saw that Metrov, like other people, in spite of his own article, in which he had attacked the current theory of political economy, looked at the position of the Russian peasant simply from the point of view of capital, wages, and rent. He would indeed have been obliged to admit that in the eastern—much the larger—part of Russia rent was as yet nil, that for nine-tenths of the eighty millions of the Russian peasants wages took the form simply of food provided for themselves, and that capital does not so far exist except in the form of the most primitive tools. Yet it was only from that point of view that he considered every laborer, though in many points he differed from the economists and had his own theory of the wage-fund, which he expounded to Levin.
Levin listened reluctantly, and at first made objections. He would have liked to interrupt Metrov, to explain his own thought, which in his opinion would have rendered further exposition of Metrov's theories superfluous. But later on, feeling convinced that they looked at the matter so differently, that they could never understand one another, he did not even oppose his statements, but simply listened. Although what Metrov was saying was by now utterly devoid of interest for him, he yet experienced a certain satisfaction in listening to him. It flattered his vanity that such a learned man should explain his ideas to him so eagerly, with such intensity and confidence in Levin's understanding of the subject, sometimes with a mere hint referring him to a whole aspect of the subject. He put this down to his own credit, unaware that Metrov, who had already discussed his theory over and over again with all his intimate friends, talked of it with special eagerness to every new person, and in general was eager to talk to anyone of any subject that interested him, even if still obscure to himself.
"We are late though," said Katavasov, looking at his watch directly Metrov had finished his discourse.
"Yes, there's a meeting of the Society of Amateurs today in commemoration of the jubilee of Svintitch," said Katavasov in answer to Levin's inquiry. "Pyotr Ivanovitch and I were going. I've promised to deliver an address on his labors in zoology. Come along with us, it's very interesting."
"Yes, and indeed it's time to start," said Metrov. "Come with us, and from there, if you care to, come to my place. I should very much like to hear your work."
"Oh, no! It's no good yet, it's unfinished. But I shall be very glad to go to the meeting."
"I say, friends, have you heard? He has handed in the separate report," Katavasov called from the other room, where he was putting on his frock coat.
And a conversation sprang up upon the university question, which was a very important event that winter in Moscow. Three old professors in the council had not accepted the opinion of the younger professors. The young ones had registered a separate resolution. This, in the judgment of some people, was monstrous, in the judgment of others it was the simplest and most just thing to do, and the professors were split up into two parties.
One party, to which Katavasov belonged, saw in the opposite party a scoundrelly betrayal and treachery, while the opposite party saw in them childishness and lack of respect for the authorities. Levin, though he did not belong to the university, had several times already during his stay in Moscow heard and talked about this matter, and had his own opinion on the subject. He took part in the conversation that was continued in the street, as they all three walked to the buildings of the old university.
The meeting had already begun. Round the cloth-covered table, at which Katavasov and Metrov seated themselves, there were some half-dozen persons, and one of these was bending close over a manuscript, reading something aloud. Levin sat down in one of the empty chairs that were standing round the table, and in a whisper asked a student sitting near what was being read. The student, eyeing Levin with displeasure, said:
Though Levin was not interested in the biography, he could not help listening, and learned some new and interesting facts about the life of the distinguished man of science.
When the reader had finished, the chairman thanked him and read some verses of the poet Ment sent him on the jubilee, and said a few words by way of thanks to the poet. Then Katavasov in his loud, ringing voice read his address on the scientific labors of the man whose jubilee was being kept.
When Katavasov had finished, Levin looked at his watch, saw it was past one, and thought that there would not be time before the concert to read Metrov his book, and indeed, he did not now care to do so. During the reading he had thought over their conversation. He saw distinctly now that though Metrov's ideas might perhaps have value, his own ideas had a value too, and their ideas could only be made clear and lead to something if each worked separately in his chosen path, and that nothing would be gained by putting their ideas together. And having made up his mind to refuse Metrov's invitation, Levin went up to him at the end of the meeting. Metrov introduced Levin to the chairman, with whom he was talking of the political news. Metrov told the chairman what he had already told Levin, and Levin made the same remarks on his news that he had already made that morning, but for the sake of variety he expressed also a new opinion which had only just struck him. After that the conversation turned again on the university question. As Levin had already heard it all, he made haste to tell Metrov that he was sorry he could not take advantage of his invitation, took leave, and drove to Lvov's.
Lvov, the husband of Natalia, Kitty's sister, had spent all his life in foreign capitals, where he had been educated, and had been in the diplomatic service.
During the previous year he had left the diplomatic service, not owing to any "unpleasantness" (he never had any "unpleasantness" with anyone), and was transferred to the department of the court of the palace in Moscow, in order to give his two boys the best education possible.
In spite of the striking contrast in their habits and views and the fact that Lvov was older than Levin, they had seen a great deal of one another that winter, and had taken a great liking to each other.
Lvov was at home, and Levin went in to him unannounced.
Lvov, in a house coat with a belt and in chamois leather shoes, was sitting in an armchair, and with a pince-nez with blue glasses he was reading a book that stood on a reading desk, while in his beautiful hand he held a half-burned cigarette daintily away from him.
His handsome, delicate, and still youthful-looking face, to which his curly, glistening silvery hair gave a still more aristocratic air, lighted up with a smile when he saw Levin.
"Capital! I was meaning to send to you. How's Kitty? Sit here, it's more comfortable." He got up and pushed up a rocking chair. "Have you read the last circular in the Journal de St. Petersbourg? I think it's excellent," he said, with a slight French accent.
Levin told him what he had heard from Katavasov was being said in Petersburg, and after talking a little about politics, he told him of his interview with Metrov, and the learned society's meeting. To Lvov it was very interesting.
"That's what I envy you, that you are able to mix in these interesting scientific circles," he said. And as he talked, he passed as usual into French, which was easier to him. "It's true I haven't the time for it. My official work and the children leave me no time; and then I'm not ashamed to own that my education has been too defective."
"That I don't believe," said Levin with a smile, feeling, as he always did, touched at Lvov's low opinion of himself, which was not in the least put on from a desire to seem or to be modest, but was absolutely sincere.
"Oh, yes, indeed! I feel now how badly educated I am. To educate my children I positively have to look up a great deal, and in fact simply to study myself. For it's not enough to have teachers, there must be someone to look after them, just as on your land you want laborers and an overseer. See what I'm reading"—he pointed to Buslaev's Grammar on the desk—"it's expected of Misha, and it's so difficult.... Come, explain to me.... Here he says..."
Levin tried to explain to him that it couldn't be understood, but that it had to be taught; but Lvov would not agree with him.
"Oh, you're laughing at it!"
"On the contrary, you can't imagine how, when I look at you, I'm always learning the task that lies before me, that is the education of one's children."
"Well, there's nothing for you to learn," said Lvov.
"All I know," said Levin, "is that I have never seen better brought-up children than yours, and I wouldn't wish for children better than yours."
Lvov visibly tried to restrain the expression of his delight, but he was positively radiant with smiles.
"If only they're better than I! That's all I desire. You don't know yet all the work," he said, "with boys who've been left like mine to run wild abroad."
"You'll catch all that up. They're such clever children. The great thing is the education of character. That's what I learn when I look at your children."
"You talk of the education of character. You can't imagine how difficult that is! You have hardly succeeded in combating one tendency when others crop up, and the struggle begins again. If one had not a support in religion—you remember we talked about that—no father could bring children up relying on his own strength alone without that help."
This subject, which always interested Levin, was cut short by the entrance of the beauty Natalia Alexandrovna, dressed to go out.
"I didn't know you were here," she said, unmistakably feeling no regret, but a positive pleasure, in interrupting this conversation on a topic she had heard so much of that she was by now weary of it. "Well, how is Kitty? I am dining with you today. I tell you what, Arseny," she turned to her husband, "you take the carriage."
And the husband and wife began to discuss their arrangements for the day. As the husband had to drive to meet someone on official business, while the wife had to go to the concert and some public meeting of a committee on the Eastern Question, there was a great deal to consider and settle. Levin had to take part in their plans as one of themselves. It was settled that Levin should go with Natalia to the concert and the meeting, and that from there they should send the carriage to the office for Arseny, and he should call for her and take her to Kitty's; or that, if he had not finished his work, he should send the carriage back and Levin would go with her.
"He's spoiling me," Lvov said to his wife; "he assures me that our children are splendid, when I know how much that's bad there is in them."
"Arseny goes to extremes, I always say," said his wife. "If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied. And it's true, as papa says,—that when we were brought up there was one extreme—we were kept in the basement, while our parents lived in the best rooms; now it's just the other way—the parents are in the wash house, while the children are in the best rooms. Parents now are not expected to live at all, but to exist altogether for their children."
"Well, what if they like it better?" Lvov said, with his beautiful smile, touching her hand. "Anyone who didn't know you would think you were a stepmother, not a true mother."
"No, extremes are not good in anything," Natalia said serenely, putting his paper knife straight in its proper place on the table.
"Well, come here, you perfect children," Lvov said to the two handsome boys who came in, and after bowing to Levin, went up to their father, obviously wishing to ask him about something.
Levin would have liked to talk to them, to hear what they would say to their father, but Natalia began talking to him, and then Lvov's colleague in the service, Mahotin, walked in, wearing his court uniform, to go with him to meet someone, and a conversation was kept up without a break upon Herzegovina, Princess Korzinskaya, the town council, and the sudden death of Madame Apraksina.
Levin even forgot the commission intrusted to him. He recollected it as he was going into the hall.
"Oh, Kitty told me to talk to you about Oblonsky," he said, as Lvov was standing on the stairs, seeing his wife and Levin off.
"Yes, yes, maman wants us, les beaux-freres, to attack him," he said, blushing. "But why should I?"
"Well, then, I will attack him," said Madame Lvova, with a smile, standing in her white sheepskin cape, waiting till they had finished speaking. "Come, let us go."
At the concert in the afternoon two very interesting things were performed. One was a fantasia, King Lear; the other was a quartette dedicated to the memory of Bach. Both were new and in the new style, and Levin was eager to form an opinion of them. After escorting his sister-in-law to her stall, he stood against a column and tried to listen as attentively and conscientiously as possible. He tried not to let his attention be distracted, and not to spoil his impression by looking at the conductor in a white tie, waving his arms, which always disturbed his enjoyment of music so much, or the ladies in bonnets, with strings carefully tied over their ears, and all these people either thinking of nothing at all or thinking of all sorts of things except the music. He tried to avoid meeting musical connoisseurs or talkative acquaintances, and stood looking at the floor straight before him, listening.
But the more he listened to the fantasia of King Lear the further he felt from forming any definite opinion of it. There was, as it were, a continual beginning, a preparation of the musical expression of some feeling, but it fell to pieces again directly, breaking into new musical motives, or simply nothing but the whims of the composer, exceedingly complex but disconnected sounds. And these fragmentary musical expressions, though sometimes beautiful, were disagreeable, because they were utterly unexpected and not led up to by anything. Gaiety and grief and despair and tenderness and triumph followed one another without any connection, like the emotions of a madman. And those emotions, like a madman's, sprang up quite unexpectedly.
During the whole of the performance Levin felt like a deaf man watching people dancing, and was in a state of complete bewilderment when the fantasia was over, and felt a great weariness from the fruitless strain on his attention. Loud applause resounded on all sides. Everyone got up, moved about, and began talking. Anxious to throw some light on his own perplexity from the impressions of others, Levin began to walk about, looking for connoisseurs, and was glad to see a well-known musical amateur in conversation with Pestsov, whom he knew.
"Marvelous!" Pestsov was saying in his mellow bass. "How are you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch? Particularly sculpturesque and plastic, so to say, and richly colored is that passage where you feel Cordelia's approach, where woman, das ewig Weibliche, enters into conflict with fate. Isn't it?"
"You mean...what has Cordelia to do with it?" Levin asked timidly, forgetting that the fantasia was supposed to represent King Lear.
"Cordelia comes in...see here!" said Pestsov, tapping his finger on the satiny surface of the program he held in his hand and passing it to Levin.
Only then Levin recollected the title of the fantasia, and made haste to read in the Russian translation the lines from Shakespeare that were printed on the back of the program.
"You can't follow it without that," said Pestsov, addressing Levin, as the person he had been speaking to had gone away, and he had no one to talk to.
In the entr'acte Levin and Pestsov fell into an argument upon the merits and defects of music of the Wagner school. Levin maintained that the mistake of Wagner and all his followers lay in their trying to take music into the sphere of another art, just as poetry goes wrong when it tries to paint a face as the art of painting ought to do, and as an instance of this mistake he cited the sculptor who carved in marble certain poetic phantasms flitting round the figure of the poet on the pedestal. "These phantoms were so far from being phantoms that they were positively clinging on the ladder," said Levin. The comparison pleased him, but he could not remember whether he had not used the same phrase before, and to Pestsov, too, and as he said it he felt confused.
Pestsov maintained that art is one, and that it can attain its highest manifestations only by conjunction with all kinds of art.
The second piece that was performed Levin could not hear. Pestsov, who was standing beside him, was talking to him almost all the time, condemning the music for its excessive affected assumption of simplicity, and comparing it with the simplicity of the Pre-Raphaelites in painting. As he went out Levin met many more acquaintances, with whom he talked of politics, of music, and of common acquaintances. Among others he met Count Bol, whom he had utterly forgotten to call upon.
"Well, go at once then," Madame Lvova said, when he told her; "perhaps they'll not be at home, and then you can come to the meeting to fetch me. You'll find me still there."
"Perhaps they're not at home?" said Levin, as he went into the hall of Countess Bola's house.
"At home; please walk in," said the porter, resolutely removing his overcoat.
"How annoying!" thought Levin with a sigh, taking off one glove and stroking his hat. "What did I come for? What have I to say to them?"
As he passed through the first drawing room Levin met in the doorway Countess Bola, giving some order to a servant with a care-worn and severe face. On seeing Levin she smiled, and asked him to come into the little drawing room, where he heard voices. In this room there were sitting in armchairs the two daughters of the countess, and a Moscow colonel, whom Levin knew. Levin went up, greeted them, and sat down beside the sofa with his hat on his knees.
"How is your wife? Have you been at the concert? We couldn't go. Mamma had to be at the funeral service."
"Yes, I heard.... What a sudden death!" said Levin.
The countess came in, sat down on the sofa, and she too asked after his wife and inquired about the concert.
Levin answered, and repeated an inquiry about Madame Apraksina's sudden death.
"But she was always in weak health."
"Were you at the opera yesterday?"
"Yes, I was."
"Lucca was very good."
"Yes, very good," he said, and as it was utterly of no consequence to him what they thought of him, he began repeating what they had heard a hundred times about the characteristics of the singer's talent. Countess Bola pretended to be listening. Then, when he had said enough and paused, the colonel, who had been silent till then, began to talk. The colonel too talked of the opera, and about culture. At last, after speaking of the proposed folle journee at Turin's, the colonel laughed, got up noisily, and went away. Levin too rose, but he saw by the face of the countess that it was not yet time for him to go. He must stay two minutes longer. He sat down.
But as he was thinking all the while how stupid it was, he could not find a subject for conversation, and sat silent.
"You are not going to the public meeting? They say it will be very interesting," began the countess.
"No, I promised my belle-soeur to fetch her from it," said Levin.
A silence followed. The mother once more exchanged glances with a daughter.
"Well, now I think the time has come," thought Levin, and he got up. The ladies shook hands with him, and begged him to say mille choses to his wife for them.
The porter asked him, as he gave him his coat, "Where is your honor staying?" and immediately wrote down his address in a big handsomely bound book.
"Of course I don't care, but still I feel ashamed and awfully stupid," thought Levin, consoling himself with the reflection that everyone does it. He drove to the public meeting, where he was to find his sister-in-law, so as to drive home with her.
At the public meeting of the committee there were a great many people, and almost all the highest society. Levin was in time for the report which, as everyone said, was very interesting. When the reading of the report was over, people moved about, and Levin met Sviazhsky, who invited him very pressingly to come that evening to a meeting of the Society of Agriculture, where a celebrated lecture was to be delivered, and Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had only just come from the races, and many other acquaintances; and Levin heard and uttered various criticisms on the meeting, on the new fantasia, and on a public trial. But, probably from the mental fatigue he was beginning to feel, he made a blunder in speaking of the trial, and this blunder he recalled several times with vexation. Speaking of the sentence upon a foreigner who had been condemned in Russia, and of how unfair it would be to punish him by exile abroad, Levin repeated what he had heard the day before in conversation from an acquaintance.
"I think sending him abroad is much the same as punishing a carp by putting it into the water," said Levin. Then he recollected that this idea, which he had heard from an acquaintance and uttered as his own, came from a fable of Krilov's, and that the acquaintance had picked it up from a newspaper article.
After driving home with his sister-in-law, and finding Kitty in good spirits and quite well, Levin drove to the club.
Levin reached the club just at the right time. Members and visitors were driving up as he arrived. Levin had not been at the club for a very long while—not since he lived in Moscow, when he was leaving the university and going into society. He remembered the club, the external details of its arrangement, but he had completely forgotten the impression it had made on him in old days. But as soon as, driving into the wide semicircular court and getting out of the sledge, he mounted the steps, and the hall porter, adorned with a crossway scarf, noiselessly opened the door to him with a bow; as soon as he saw in the porter's room the cloaks and galoshes of members who thought it less trouble to take them off downstairs; as soon as he heard the mysterious ringing bell that preceded him as he ascended the easy, carpeted staircase, and saw the statue on the landing, and the third porter at the top doors, a familiar figure grown older, in the club livery, opening the door without haste or delay, and scanning the visitors as they passed in—Levin felt the old impression of the club come back in a rush, an impression of repose, comfort, and propriety.
"Your hat, please," the porter said to Levin, who forgot the club rule to leave his hat in the porter's room. "Long time since you've been. The prince put your name down yesterday. Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch is not here yet."
The porter did not only know Levin, but also all his ties and relationships, and so immediately mentioned his intimate friends.
Passing through the outer hall, divided up by screens, and the room partitioned on the right, where a man sits at the fruit buffet, Levin overtook an old man walking slowly in, and entered the dining room full of noise and people.
He walked along the tables, almost all full, and looked at the visitors. He saw people of all sorts, old and young; some he knew a little, some intimate friends. There was not a single cross or worried-looking face. All seemed to have left their cares and anxieties in the porter's room with their hats, and were all deliberately getting ready to enjoy the material blessings of life. Sviazhsky was here and Shtcherbatsky, Nevyedovsky and the old prince, and Vronsky and Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Ah! why are you late?" the prince said smiling, and giving him his hand over his own shoulder. "How's Kitty?" he added, smoothing out the napkin he had tucked in at his waistcoat buttons.
"All right; they are dining at home, all the three of them."
"Ah, 'Aline-Nadine,' to be sure! There's no room with us. Go to that table, and make haste and take a seat," said the prince, and turning away he carefully took a plate of eel soup.
"Levin, this way!" a good-natured voice shouted a little farther on. It was Turovtsin. He was sitting with a young officer, and beside them were two chairs turned upside down. Levin gladly went up to them. He had always liked the good-hearted rake, Turovtsin—he was associated in his mind with memories of his courtship—and at that moment, after the strain of intellectual conversation, the sight of Turovtsin's good-natured face was particularly welcome.
"For you and Oblonsky. He'll be here directly."
The young man, holding himself very erect, with eyes forever twinkling with enjoyment, was an officer from Petersburg, Gagin. Turovtsin introduced them.
"Oblonsky's always late."
"Ah, here he is!"
"Have you only just come?" said Oblonsky, coming quickly towards them. "Good day. Had some vodka? Well, come along then."
Levin got up and went with him to the big table spread with spirits and appetizers of the most various kinds. One would have thought that out of two dozen delicacies one might find something to one's taste, but Stepan Arkadyevitch asked for something special, and one of the liveried waiters standing by immediately brought what was required. They drank a wine glassful and returned to their table.
At once, while they were still at the soup, Gagin was served with champagne, and told the waiter to fill four glasses. Levin did not refuse the wine, and asked for a second bottle. He was very hungry, and ate and drank with great enjoyment, and with still greater enjoyment took part in the lively and simple conversation of his companions. Gagin, dropping his voice, told the last good story from Petersburg, and the story, though improper and stupid, was so ludicrous that Levin broke into roars of laughter so loud that those near looked round.