During the previous year he had left the diplomatic service, not owing to any unpleasantness (he never had any unpleasantness with any one), and was transferred to the department of the court of the palace in Moscow, in order to give his two boys the best education possible.
In spite of the striking contrast in their habits and views, and the fact that Lvov was older than Levin, they had seen a great deal of one another that winter, and had taken a great liking to each other.
Lvov, in a house coat with a belt and in chamois leather shoes, was sitting in an arm-chair, and with a pince-nez with blue glasses he was reading a book that stood on a reading-desk, while in his beautiful hand he held a half-burned cigarette daintily away from him.
Capital! I was meaning to send to you. Hows Kitty? Sit here, its more comfortable. He got up and pushed up a rocking-chair. Have you read the last circular in the Journal de St. Pétersbourg? I think its excellent, he said, with a slight French accent.
Levin told him what he had heard from Katavasov was being said in Petersburg, and after talking a little about politics, he told him of his interview with Metrov, and the learned societys meeting. To Lvov it was very interesting.
Thats what I envy you, that you are able to mix in these interesting scientific circles, he said. And as he talked, he passed as usual into French, which was easier to him. Its true I havent the time for it. My official work and the children leave me no time; and then Im not ashamed to own that my education has been too defective.
That I dont believe, said Levin with a smile, feeling, as he always did, touched at Lvovs low opinion of himself, which was not in the least put on from a desire to seem or to be modest, but was absolutely sincere.
Oh, yes, indeed! I feel now how badly educated I am. To educate my children I positively have to look up a great deal, and in fact simply to study myself. For its not enough to have teachers, there must be some one to look after them, just as on your land you want labourers and on overseer. See what Im readinghe pointed to Buslaevs Grammar on the deskits expected of Misha, and its so difficult Come, explain to me Here he says
You talk of the education of character. You cant imagine how difficult that is! You have hardly succeeded in combating one tendency when others crop up, and the struggle begins again. If one had not a support in religionyou remember we talked about thatno father could bring children up relying on his own strength alone without that help.
I didnt know you were here, she said, unmistakably feeling no regret, but a positive pleasure, in interrupting this conversation on a topic she had heard so much of that she was by now weary of it. Well, how is Kitty? I am dining with you to-day. I tell you what, Arseny, she turned to her husband, you take the carriage.
And the husband and wife began to discuss their arrangements for the day. As the husband had to drive to meet some one on official business, while the wife had to go to the concert and some public meeting of a committee on the Eastern Question, there was a great deal to consider and settle. Levin had to take part in their plans as one of themselves. It was settled that Levin should go with Natalie to the concert and the meeting, and that from there they should send the carriage to the office for Arseny, and he should call for her and take her to Kittys; or that, if he had not finished his work, he should send the carriage back and Levin would go with her.
Arseny goes to extremes, I always say, said his wife. If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied. And its true, as papa says, that when we were brought up there was one extremewe were kept in the basement, while our parents lived in the best rooms; now its just the other waythe parents are in the wash-house, while the children are in the best rooms. Parents now are not expected to live at all, but to exist altogether for their children.
Levin would have liked to talk to them, to hear what they would say to their father, but Natalie began talking to him, and then Lvovs colleague in the service, Mahotin, walked in, wearing his court uniform, to go with him to meet some one, and a conversation was kept up without a break upon Herzegovina, Princess Korzinsky, the town council, and the sudden death of Madame Apraksin.