LEVIN had long before made the observation that when one is uncomfortable with people from their being excessively amenable and meek, one is apt very soon after to find things intolerable from their touchiness and irritability. He felt that this was how it would be with his brother. And his brother Nikolays gentleness did in fact not last out for long. The very next morning he began to be irritable, and seemed doing his best to find fault with his brother, attacking him on his tenderest points.
Levin felt himself to blame, and could not set things right. He felt that if they had both not kept up appearances, but had spoken, as it is called, from the heartthat is to say, had said only just what they were thinking and feelingthey would simply have looked into each others faces, and Konstantin could only have said, Youre dying, youre dying! and Nikolay could only have answered, I know Im dying, but Im afraid, Im afraid, Im afraid! And they could have said nothing more, if they had said only what was in their hearts. But life like that was impossible, and so Konstantin tried to do what he had been trying to do all his life, and never could learn to do, though, as far as he could observe, many people knew so well how to do it, and without it there was no living at all. He tried to say what he was not thinking, but he felt continually that it had a ring of falsehood, that his brother detected him in it, and was exasperated at it.
But I tell you its nothing to do with it. They deny the justice of property, of capital, of inheritance, while I do not deny this chief stimulus. (Levin felt disgusted himself at using such expressions, but ever since he had been engrossed by his work, he had unconsciously come more and more frequently to use words not Russian.) All I want is to regulate labour.
That, anyway, said Nikolay Levin, with an ironical smile, his eyes flashing malignantly, has the charm ofwhats one to call it?geometrical symmetry, of clearness, of definiteness. It may be a Utopia. But if once one allows the possibility of making of all the past a tabula rasano property, no familythen labour would organise itself. But you gain nothing
But thats utter waste of time. That force finds a certain form of activity of itself, according to the stage of its development. There have been slaves first everywhere, then metayers; and we have the half-crop system, rent, and day-labourers. What are you trying to find?
Levin suddenly lost his temper at these words, because at the bottom of his heart he was afraid that it was truetrue that he was trying to hold the balance even between communism and the familiar forms, and that this was hardly possible.
In spite of all Levins efforts to soothe his brother afterwards, Nikolay would listen to nothing he said, declaring that it was better to part, and Konstantin saw that it simply was that life was unbearable to him.
Anyway, dont remember evil against me, Kostya! and his voice quivered. These were the only words that had been spoken sincerely between them. Levin knew that those words meant, You see, and you know, that Im in a bad way, and may be we shall not see each other again. Levin knew this, and the tears gushed from his eyes. He kissed his brother once more, but he could not speak, and knew not what to say.
Levin said what he had genuinely been thinking of late. He saw nothing but death or the advance towards death in everything. But his cherished scheme only engrossed him the more. Life had to be got through somehow till death did come. Darkness had fallen upon everything for him; but just because of this darkness he felt that the one guiding clue in the darkness was his work, and he clutched it and clung to it with all his strength.