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PART THREE : Chapter 6

Leo TolstoyAug 23, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Mashkin Upland was mown, the last
row finished, the peasants had put on their coats
and were gaily trudging home.  Levin got on his
horse and, parting regretfully from the peasants, rode
homewards.  On the hillside he looked back; he
could not see them in the mist that had risen from
the valley; he could only hear rough, good-humored
voices, laughter, and the sound of clanking scythes.

Sergey Ivanovitch had long ago finished
dinner, and was drinking iced lemon and water in his
own room, looking through the reviews and papers which
he had only just received by post, when Levin rushed
into the room, talking merrily, with his wet and matted
hair sticking to his forehead, and his back and chest
grimed and moist.

“We mowed the whole meadow! 
Oh, it is nice, delicious!  And how have you
been getting on?” said Levin, completely forgetting
the disagreeable conversation of the previous day.

“Mercy! what do you look like!”
said Sergey Ivanovitch, for the first moment looking
round with some dissatisfaction.  “And the
door, do shut the door!” he cried.  “You
must have let in a dozen at least.”

Sergey Ivanovitch could not endure
flies, and in his own room he never opened the window
except at night, and carefully kept the door shut.

“Not one, on my honor. 
But if I have, I’ll catch them.  You wouldn’t
believe what a pleasure it is!  How have you spent
the day?”

“Very well.  But have you
really been mowing the whole day?  I expect you’re
as hungry as a wolf.  Kouzma has got everything
ready for you.”

“No, I don’t feel hungry
even.  I had something to eat there.  But
I’ll go and wash.”

“Yes, go along, go along, and
I’ll come to you directly,” said Sergey
Ivanovitch, shaking his head as he looked at his brother. 
“Go along, make haste,” he added smiling,
and gathering up his books, he prepared to go too. 
He, too, felt suddenly good-humored and disinclined
to leave his brother’s side.  “But
what did you do while it was raining?”

“Rain?  Why, there was scarcely
a drop.  I’ll come directly.  So you
had a nice day too?  That’s first-rate.” 
And Levin went off to change his clothes.

Five minutes later the brothers met
in the dining room.  Although it seemed to Levin
that he was not hungry, and he sat down to dinner
simply so as not to hurt Kouzma’s feelings, yet
when he began to eat the dinner struck him as extraordinarily
good.  Sergey Ivanovitch watched him with a smile.

“Oh, by the way, there’s
a letter for you,” said he.  “Kouzma,
bring it down, please.  And mind you shut the
doors.”

The letter was from Oblonsky. 
Levin read it aloud.  Oblonsky wrote to him
from Petersburg:  “I have had a letter from
Dolly; she’s at Ergushovo, and everything seems
going wrong there.  Do ride over and see her,
please; help her with advice; you know all about it. 
She will be so glad to see you.  She’s
quite alone, poor thing.  My mother-in-law and
all of them are still abroad.”

“That’s capital! 
I will certainly ride over to her,” said Levin. 
“Or we’ll go together.  She’s
such a splendid woman, isn’t she?”

“They’re not far from here, then?”

“Twenty-five miles.  Or
perhaps it is thirty.  But a capital road. 
Capital, we’ll drive over.”

“I shall be delighted,”
said Sergey Ivanovitch, still smiling.  The sight
of his younger brother’s appearance had immediately
put him in a good humor.

“Well, you have an appetite!”
he said, looking at his dark-red, sunburnt face and
neck bent over the plate.

“Splendid!  You can’t
imagine what an effectual remedy it is for every sort
of foolishness.  I want to enrich medicine with
a new word:  Arbeitskur.”

“Well, but you don’t need it, I should
fancy.”

“No, but for all sorts of nervous invalids.”

“Yes, it ought to be tried. 
I had meant to come to the mowing to look at you,
but it was so unbearably hot that I got no further
than the forest.  I sat there a little, and went
on by the forest to the village, met your old nurse,
and sounded her as to the peasants’ view of
you.  As far as I can make out, they don’t
approve of this.  She said:  ‘It’s
not a gentleman’s work.’  Altogether,
I fancy that in the people’s ideas there are
very clear and definite notions of certain, as they
call it, ‘gentlemanly’ lines of action. 
And they don’t sanction the gentry’s
moving outside bounds clearly laid down in their ideas.”

“Maybe so; but anyway it’s
a pleasure such as I have never known in my life. 
And there’s no harm in it, you know.  Is
there?” answered Levin.  “I can’t
help it if they don’t like it.  Though
I do believe it’s all right.  Eh?”

“Altogether,” pursued
Sergey Ivanovitch, “you’re satisfied with
your day?”

“Quite satisfied.  We cut
the whole meadow.  And such a splendid old man
I made friends with there!  You can’t fancy
how delightful he was!”

“Well, so you’re content
with your day.  And so am I. First, I solved
two chess problems, and one a very pretty one ­a
pawn opening.  I’ll show it you. 
And then ­I thought over our conversation
yesterday.”

“Eh! our conversation yesterday?”
said Levin, blissfully dropping his eyelids and drawing
deep breaths after finishing his dinner, and absolutely
incapable of recalling what their conversation yesterday
was about.

“I think you are partly right. 
Our difference of opinion amounts to this, that you
make the mainspring self-interest, while I suppose
that interest in the common weal is bound to exist
in every man of a certain degree of advancement. 
Possibly you are right too, that action founded on
material interest would be more desirable.  You
are altogether, as the French say, too primesautière
a nature; you must have intense, energetic action,
or nothing.”

Levin listened to his brother and
did not understand a single word, and did not want
to understand.  He was only afraid his brother
might ask him some question which would make it evident
he had not heard.

“So that’s what I think
it is, my dear boy,” said Sergey Ivanovitch,
touching him on the shoulder.

“Yes, of course.  But,
do you know?  I won’t stand up for my view,”
answered Levin, with a guilty, childlike smile. 
“Whatever was it I was disputing about?”
he wondered.  “Of course, I’m right,
and he’s right, and it’s all first-rate. 
Only I must go round to the counting house and see
to things.”  He got up, stretching and smiling. 
Sergey Ivanovitch smiled too.

“If you want to go out, let’s
go together,” he said, disinclined to be parted
from his brother, who seemed positively breathing
out freshness and energy.  “Come, we’ll
go to the counting house, if you have to go there.”

“Oh, heavens!” shouted
Levin, so loudly that Sergey Ivanovitch was quite
frightened.

“What, what is the matter?”

“How’s Agafea Mihalovna’s
hand?” said Levin, slapping himself on the head. 
“I’d positively forgotten her even.”

“It’s much better.”

“Well, anyway I’ll run
down to her.  Before you’ve time to get
your hat on, I’ll be back.”

And he ran downstairs, clattering
with his heels like a spring-rattle.

 

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