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-humoured 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.
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.
Yes, go along, go along, and Ill 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-humoured and disinclined to leave his brothers side. But what did you do while it was raining?
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 Kouzmas feelings, yet when he began to eat the dinner struck him as extraordinarily good. Sergey Ivanovitch watched him with a smile.
The letter was from Oblonsky. Levin read it aloud. Oblonsky wrote to him from Petersburg: I have had a letter from Dolly; shes 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. Shes quite alone, poor thing. My mother-in-law and all of them are still abroad.
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 dont approve of this. She said: Its not a gentlemans work. Altogether, I fancy that in the peoples ideas there are very clear and definite notions of certain, as they call it, gentlemanly lines of action. And they dont sanction the gentrys moving outside bounds clearly laid down in their ideas.
May be so; but any way its a pleasure such as I have never known in my life. And theres no harm in it, you know. Is there? answered Levin. I cant help it if they dont like it. Though I do believe its all right. Eh?
Well, so youre content with your day. And so am I. First, I solved two chess problems, and one a very pretty onea pawn opening. Ill show it you. And thenI 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 found 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.
Yes, of course. But, do you know? I wont stand up for my view, answered Levin, with a guilty, childlike smile. Whatever was it I was disputing about? he wondered. Of course, Im right, and hes right, and its 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, lets go together, he said, disinclined to be parted from his brother, who seemed positively breathing out freshness and energy. Come, well go to the counting-house, if you have to go there.