FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 7

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

Light off Small Medium Large

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.

“That’s in the same style
as, ‘that’s a thing I can’t endure!’
You know the story?” said Stepan Arkadyevitch. 
“Ah, that’s exquisite!  Another
bottle,” he said to the waiter, and he began
to relate his good story.

“Pyotr Illyitch Vinovsky invites
you to drink with him,” a little old waiter
interrupted Stepan Arkadyevitch, bringing two delicate
glasses of sparkling champagne, and addressing Stepan
Arkadyevitch and Levin.  Stepan Arkadyevitch took
the glass, and looking towards a bald man with red
mustaches at the other end of the table, he nodded
to him, smiling.

“Who’s that?” asked Levin.

“You met him once at my place,
don’t you remember?  A good-natured fellow.”

Levin did the same as Stepan Arkadyevitch
and took the glass.

Stepan Arkadyevitch’s anecdote
too was very amusing.  Levin told his story,
and that too was successful.  Then they talked
of horses, of the races, of what they had been doing
that day, and of how smartly Vronsky’s Atlas
had won the first prize.  Levin did not notice
how the time passed at dinner.

“Ah! and here they are!”
Stepan Arkadyevitch said towards the end of dinner,
leaning over the back of his chair and holding out
his hand to Vronsky, who came up with a tall officer
of the Guards.  Vronsky’s face too beamed
with the look of good-humored enjoyment that was general
in the club.  He propped his elbow playfully on
Stepan Arkadyevitch’s shoulder, whispering something
to him, and he held out his hand to Levin with the
same good-humored smile.

“Very glad to meet you,”
he said.  “I looked out for you at the
election, but I was told you had gone away.”

“Yes, I left the same day. 
We’ve just been talking of your horse. 
I congratulate you,” said Levin.  “It
was very rapidly run.”

“Yes; you’ve race horses too, haven’t
you?”

“No, my father had; but I remember and know
something about it.”

“Where have you dined?” asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.

“We were at the second table, behind the columns.”

“We’ve been celebrating
his success,” said the tall colonel.  “It’s
his second Imperial prize.  I wish I might have
the luck at cards he has with horses.  Well,
why waste the precious time?  I’m going
to the ‘infernal regions,’” added
the colonel, and he walked away.

“That’s Yashvin,”
Vronsky said in answer to Turovtsin, and he sat down
in the vacated seat beside them.  He drank the
glass offered him, and ordered a bottle of wine. 
Under the influence of the club atmosphere or the
wine he had drunk, Levin chatted away to Vronsky of
the best breeds of cattle, and was very glad not to
feel the slightest hostility to this man.  He
even told him, among other things, that he had heard
from his wife that she had met him at Princess Marya
Borissovna’s.

“Ah, Princess Marya Borissovna,
she’s exquisite!” said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
and he told an anecdote about her which set them all
laughing.  Vronsky particularly laughed with such
simplehearted amusement that Levin felt quite reconciled
to him.

“Well, have we finished?”
said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting up with a smile. 
“Let us go.”

 

Leave a Reply