FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 2

Leo TolstoyAug 25, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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“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!”

Kitty laughed.

“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.

“Yes, sir.”

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.

 

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