Anna Karenina, v8 by Leo Tolstoy
translated by Constance Garnett
Almost two months had passed. The hot summer was half over, but
Sergei Ivanovich was only just preparing to leave Moscow.
Sergei Ivanovich's life had not been uneventful during this time.
A year ago he had finished his book, the fruit of six years' labor. An
Inquiry Concerning the Principles and Forms of Government in Europe
and Russia. Several sections of this book and its introduction had
appeared in periodical publications, and other parts had been read by
Sergei Ivanovich to persons of his circle, so that the leading ideas
of the work could not be entirely novel to the public. But still,
Sergei Ivanovich had expected that on its appearance his book would be
sure to make a serious impression on society, and if it did not cause
a revolution in social science it would, at any rate, make a great
stir in the scientific world.
After the most conscientious revision the book had last year been
published, and had been distributed among the booksellers.
Though he asked no one about it, reluctantly and with feigned
indifference answered his friends' inquiries as to how the book was
going, and did not even inquire of the booksellers how the book was
selling, Sergei Ivanovich was all on the alert, with strained
attention, watching for the first impression his book would make in
the world and in literature.
But a week passed, a second, a third, and in society no impression
whatever could be detected. Those of his friends, who were specialists
and savants, occasionally——unmistakably from politeness——alluded to
it. The rest of his acquaintances, not interested in a book on a
learned subject, did not talk of it at all. And society generally——
just now especially absorbed in other things——was absolutely
indifferent. In the press, too, for a whole month there was not a word
about his book.
Sergei Ivanovich had calculated to a nicety the time necessary for
writing a review, but a month passed, and a second, and still there
Only in the Northern Beetle, in a comic article on the singer
Drabanti, who had lost his voice, there was a contemptuous allusion to
Koznishev's book, suggesting that the book had been long ago seen
through by everyone, and was a subject of general ridicule.
At last, in the third month, a critical article appeared in a
serious review. Sergei Ivanovich knew the author of the article. He
had met him once at Golubtsov's.
The author of the article was a young man, an invalid, very bold
as a writer, but extremely deficient in breeding and shy in personal
In spite of his absolute contempt for the author, it was with
complete respect that Sergei Ivanovich set about reading the article.
The article was awful.
The critic had undoubtedly put an interpretation upon the book
which could not possibly be put on it. But he had selected quotations
so adroitly that for people who had not read the book (and obviously
scarcely anyone had read it) it seemed absolutely clear that the whole
book was nothing but a medley of high-flown phrases, not even——as
suggested by marks of interrogation——used appropriately, and that the
author of the book was a person absolutely without knowledge of the
subject. And all this was so wittily done that Sergei Ivanovich would
not have disowned such wit himself. But that was just what was so
In spite of the scrupulous conscientiousness with which Sergei
Ivanovich verified the correctness of the critic's arguments, he did
not for a minute stop to ponder over the faults and mistakes which
were ridiculed; but unconsciously he began immediately trying to
recall every detail of his meeting and conversation with the author of
"Didn't I offend him in some way?" Sergei Ivanovich wondered.
And remembering that when they met he had corrected the young man
about something he had said that betrayed ignorance, Sergei Ivanovich
found the explanation for the trend of the article.
This article was followed by a deadly silence about the book both
in the press and in conversation, and Sergei Ivanovich saw that his
six years' task, toiled at with such love and labor, had gone, leaving
Sergei Ivanovich's position was still more difficult from the fact
that, since he had finished his book, he had had more literary work to
do, such as had hitherto occupied the greater part of his time.
Sergei Ivanovich was clever, cultivated healthy and energetic, and
he did not know what use to make of his energy. Conversations in
drawing rooms, in meetings, assemblies, and committees——everywhere
where talk was possible——took up part of his time. But being used for
years to town life, he did not waste all his energies in talk, as his
less experienced younger brother did, when he was in Moscow. He had a
great deal of leisure and intellectual energy still to dispose of.
Fortunately for him, at this period so difficult for him because
of the failure of his book, the various public questions of the
dissenting sects, of the American Friends, of the Samara famine, of
exhibition, and of spiritualism, were definitely replaced in public
interest by the Slavonic question, which had hitherto rather languidly
interested society, and Sergei Ivanovich, who had been one of the
first to raise this subject, threw himself into it heart and soul.
In the circle to which Sergei Ivanovich belonged, nothing was
talked of or written about just now but the Servian war. Everything
that the idle crowd usually does to kill time was done now for the
benefit of the Slavonic peoples. Balls, concerts, dinners, speeches,
ladies' dresses, beer, taverns——everything testified to sympathy with
the Slavonic peoples.
From much of what was spoken and written on the subject, Sergei
Ivanovich differed on various points. He saw that the Slavonic
question had become one of those fashionable distractions which
succeed one another in providing society with an object and an
occupation. He saw, too, that a great many people were taking up the
subject from motives of self-interest and self-advertisement. He
recognized that the newspapers published a great deal that was
superfluous and exaggerated, with the sole aim of attracting attention
and talking one another down. He saw that in this general movement
those who thrust themselves most forward and shouted the loudest were
men who had failed and were smarting under a sense of injury—— generals
without armies, ministers not in the ministry, journalists not on any
paper, party leaders without followers. He saw that there was a great
deal in it that was frivolous and absurd. But he saw and recognized an
unmistakable growing enthusiasm, uniting all classes, with which it
was impossible not to sympathize. The massacre of men who were fellow
Christians, and of the same Slavonic race, excited sympathy for the
sufferers and indignation against the oppressors. And the heroism of
the Servians and Montenegrins struggling for a great cause begot in
the whole people a longing to help their brothers not in word but in
But in this there was another aspect that made Sergei Ivanovich
rejoice. That was the manifestation of public opinion. The public had
definitely expressed its desire. The soul of the people had, as Sergei
Ivanovich said, found expression. And the more he worked in this
cause, the more incontestable it seemed to him that it was a cause
destined to assume vast dimensions, to create an epoch.
He threw himself heart and soul into the service of this great
cause, and forgot to think about his book.
His whole time now was engrossed by it, so that he could scarcely
manage to answer all the letters and appeals addressed to him.
He worked the whole spring and part of the summer, and it was only
in July that he prepared to go away to his brother's country place.
He was going both to rest for a fortnight, and in the very heart
of the people, in the farthest wilds of the country, to enjoy the
sight of that uplifting of the spirit of the people, of which, like
all residents in the capital and big towns, he was fully persuaded.
Katavassov had long intended to carry out his promise to stay with
Levin, and so he was going with him.
Sergei Ivanovich and Katavassov had just reached the station of
the Kursk line, which was particularly busy and full of people that
day, when, looking round for the groom who was following with their
things, they saw a party of volunteers driving up in four cabs. Ladies
met them with bouquets of flowers, and, followed by the rushing crowd,
they went into the station.
One of the ladies who had met the volunteers, came out of the hall
and addressed Sergei Ivanovich.
"You also come to see them off?" she asked in French.
"No, I'm going away myself, Princess. To my brother's for a
holiday. Do you always see them off?" said Sergei Ivanovich with a
barely perceptible smile.
"Oh, that would be impossible!" answered the Princess. "Is it true
that eight hundred have been sent from us already? Malvinsky wouldn't
"More than eight hundred. If you reckon those who have been sent
not directly from Moscow, over a thousand," answered Sergei Ivanovich.
"There! That's just what I said!" exclaimed the lady joyously.
"And it's true too, I suppose, that about a million has been
"What do you say to today's telegram? The Turks have been
"Yes, so I saw," answered Sergei Ivanovich. They were speaking of
the last telegram stating that the Turks had been for three days in
succession beaten at all points and put to flight, and that tomorrow a
decisive engagement was expected.
"Ah, by the way, a splendid young fellow has asked leave to go,
and they've made some difficulty——I don't know why. I meant to ask
you; I know him; please write a note about his case. He's being sent
by Countess Lidia Ivanovna."
Sergei Ivanovich asked for all the details the Princess knew about
the young man, and, going into the first-class waiting room, wrote a
note to the person on whom the granting of leave of absence depended,
and handed it to the Princess.
"You know Count Vronsky, the notorious one... is going by this
train?" said the Princess with a smile full of triumph and meaning,
when he found her again and gave her the letter.
"I had heard he was going, but I did not know when. By this train?"
"I've seen him. He's here: there's only his mother seeing him off.
It's the best thing, anyway, that he could do."
"Oh, yes, of course."
While they were talking the crowd streamed by them toward the
dining table. They went forward too, and heard a gentleman with a
glass in his hand delivering a loud discourse to the volunteers. "In
the service of religion, humanity, and our brethren," the gentleman
said, his voice growing louder and louder; "to this great cause mother
Moscow dedicates you with her blessing. Jivio!" he concluded,
concluded, loudly and tearfully.
Everyone shouted Jivio! and a fresh crowd dashed into the hall,
almost carrying the Princess off her feet.
"Ah, Princess! That was something like!" said Stepan Arkadyevich,
suddenly appearing in the midst of the crowd and beaming upon them
with a delighted smile. "Capitally, warmly said, wasn't it? Bravo! And
Sergei Ivanovich! Why, you ought to have said something——just a few
words, you know, to encourage them; you do that so well," he added
with a soft, respectful, and discreet smile, moving Sergei Ivanovich
forward a little by the arm.
"No, I'm just off."
"To the country, to my brother's," answered Sergei Ivanovich.
"Then you'll see my wife. I've written to her, but you'll see her
first. Please tell her that they've seen me and that it's 'all right,'
as the English say. She'll understand. Oh, and be so good as to tell
her I'm appointed member of the committee.... But she'll understand!
You know, les petites misires de la vie humaine," he said, as it were
apologizing to the Princess. "And Princess Miaghkaia——not Liza, but
Bibish——is sending a thousand guns and twelve nurses, after all. Did I
"Yes, I heard so," answered Koznishev indifferently.
"It's a pity you're going away," said Stepan Arkadyevich.
"Tomorrow we're giving a dinner to two who are setting off——
Dimer-Biartniansky from Peterburg and our Veslovsky, Grisha. They're
both going. Veslovsky's only lately married. There's a fine fellow for
you! Eh, Princess?" he turned to the lady.
The Princess looked at Koznishev without replying. But the fact
that Sergei Ivanovich and the Princess seemed anxious to get rid of
him did not in the least disconcert Stepan Arkadyevich. Smiling, he
stared at the feather in the Princess's hat, and then about him as
though he were going to pick something up. Seeing a lady approaching
with a collection box, he beckoned her up and put in a five-rouble
"I can never see these collection boxes unmoved while I've money
in my pocket," he said. "And how about today's telegram? Fine chaps
"You don't say so!" he cried, when the Princess told him that
Vronsky was going by this train. For an instant Stepan Arkadyevich's
face looked sad, but a minute later, when, stroking his whiskers and
swinging as he walked, he went into the hall where Vronsky was, he had
completely forgotten his own despairing sobs over his sister's corpse,
and he saw in Vronsky only a hero and an old friend.
"With all his faults one can't refuse to do him justice," said the
Princess to Sergei Ivanovich, as soon as Stepan Arkadyevich had left
them. "What a typically Russian, Slav nature! Only, I'm afraid it
won't be pleasant for Vronsky to see him. Say what you will, I'm
touched by that man's fate. Do talk to him a little on the way," said
"Yes, perhaps, if the occasion arises."
"I never liked him. But this atones for a great deal. He's not
merely going himself——he's taking a squadron at his own expense."
"Yes, so I heard."
A bell sounded. Everyone crowded to the doors.
"Here he is!" said the Princess, indicating Vronsky, who, with his
mother on his arm walked by, wearing a long overcoat and wide-brimmed
black hat. Oblonsky was walking beside him, talking eagerly of
Vronsky was frowning and looking straight before him, as though he
did not hear what Stepan Arkadyevich was saying.
Probably on Oblonsky's pointing them out, he looked round in the
direction where the Princess and Sergei Ivanovich were standing, and,
without speaking, lifted his hat. His face, aged and worn by
suffering, looked stony.
Going onto the platform, Vronsky left his mother and disappeared
into a compartment.
On the platform there rang out "God save the Czar," then shouts of
"Hurrah!" and "Jivio!" One of the volunteers, a tall, very young man
with a hollow chest, was particularly conspicuous, bowing and waving
his felt hat and a nosegay over his head. Then two officers emerged,
bowing too, and a stout man with a big beard, wearing a greasy forage
Having said good-by to the Princess, Sergei Ivanovich was joined
by Katavassov; together they got into a carriage full to overflowing,
and the train started.
At Czaritsino station the train was met by a chorus of young men
singing "Hail to Thee!" Again the volunteers bowed and poked their
heads out, but Sergei Ivanovich paid no attention to them. He had had
so much to do with the volunteers that the type was familiar to him
and did not interest him. Katavassov, whose scientific work had
prevented his having a chance of observing them hitherto, was very
much interested in them and questioned Sergei Ivanovich.
Sergei Ivanovich advised him to go into the second class and talk
to them himself. At the next station Katavassov acted on this
At the first stop he moved into the second class and made the
acquaintance of the volunteers. They were sitting in a corner of the
carriage, talking loudly and obviously aware that the attention of the
passengers, and of Katavassov, as he got in, was concentrated upon
them. More loudly than all talked the tall, hollow-chested young man.
He was unmistakably tipsy, and was relating some story that had
occurred at his school. Facing him sat a middle-aged officer in the
Austrian military jacket of the Guards' uniform. He was listening with
a smile to the hollow-chested youth, and occasionally pulling him up.
The third, in an artillery uniform, was sitting on a portmanteau
beside them. A fourth was asleep.
Entering into conversation with the youth, Katavassov learned that
he was a wealthy Moscow merchant who had run through a large fortune
before he was two-and-twenty. Katavassov did not like him, because he
was unmanly and effeminate and sickly. He was obviously convinced,
especially now after drinking, that he was performing a heroic action,
and he bragged of it in the most unpleasant way.
The second, the retired officer, made an unpleasant impression too
upon Katavassov. He was, it seemed, a man who had tried everything. He
had been on a railway, had been a land steward, and had started
factories, and he talked, quite without necessity, of everything, and
used learned expressions quite inappropriately.
The third, the artilleryman, on the contrary, struck Katavassov
very favorably. He was a quiet, modest fellow, unmistakably impressed
by the knowledge of the officer and the heroic self-sacrifice of the
merchant, and saying nothing about himself. When Katavassov asked him
what had impelled him to go to Servia, he answered modestly:
"Oh, well, everyone's going. The Servians want help, too. I'm
sorry for them."
"Yes, you artillerymen are especially scarce there," said
"Oh, I wasn't long in the artillery; maybe they'll put me into the
infantry or the cavalry."
"Into the infantry, when they need artillery more than anything?"
said Katavassov, fancying from the artilleryman's apparent age that he
must have reached a fairly high grade.
"I wasn't long in the artillery; I'm a junker, in reserve," he
said, and he began to explain how he had failed in his examination.
All of this together made a disagreeable impression on Katavassov,
and when the volunteers got out at a station for a drink, Katavassov
would have liked to compare his unfavorable impression in conversation
with someone. There was an old man in the carriage, wearing a military
overcoat, who had been listening all the while to Katavassov's
conversation with the volunteers. When they were left alone,
Katavassov addressed him.
"What different positions they come from, all those fellows who
are going off there," Katavassov said vaguely, not wishing to express
his own opinion, and at the same time anxious to find out the old
The old man was an officer who had served in two campaigns. He
knew what makes a soldier, and, judging by the appearance and the talk
of those persons, by the swagger with which they had recourse to the
bottle on the journey, he considered them poor soldiers. Moreover, he
lived in a district town, and he was longing to tell how one soldier
had volunteered from his town, a drunkard and a thief whom no one
would employ as a laborer. But knowing by experience that in the
present condition of the public temper it was dangerous to express an
opinion opposed to the general one, and especially to criticize the
volunteers unfavorably, he too watched Katavassov without committing
"Well, men are wanted there," he said, laughing with his eyes. And
they fell to talking of the last war news, and each concealed from the
other his perplexity as to the engagement expected next day, since the
Turks had been beaten, according to the latest news, all along the
line. And so they parted, neither giving expression to his opinion.
Katavassov went back to his own carriage, and with reluctant
hypocrisy reported to Sergei Ivanovich his observations of the
volunteers, from which it would appear that they were capital fellows.
At a big station at a town the volunteers were again greeted with
shouts and singing, again men and women with collection boxes
appeared, and provincial ladies brought bouquets to the volunteers and
followed them into the refreshment room; but all this was on a much
smaller and feebler scale than in Moscow.
While the train was stopping at the provincial town, Sergei
Ivanovich did not go to the refreshment room, but walked up and down
The first time he passed Vronsky's compartment he noticed that the
curtain was drawn over the window; but as he passed it the second time
he saw the old Countess at the window. She beckoned to Koznishev.
"I'm going, you see——taking him as far as Kursk," she said.
"Yes, so I heard," said Sergei Ivanovich, standing at her window
and peeping in. "What a noble act on his part!" he added, noticing
that Vronsky was not in the compartment.
"Yes, after his misfortune, what was there for him to do?"
"What a terrible thing it was!" said Sergei Ivanovich.
"Ah, what I have been through! But do get in.... Ah, what I have
been through!" she repeated, when Sergei Ivanovich had got in and sat
down beside her. "You can't conceive it! For six weeks he did not
speak to anyone, and would not touch food except when I implored him.
And not for one minute could we leave him alone. We took away
everything he could have used against himself. We lived on the ground
floor, but there was no reckoning on anything. You know, of course,
that he had shot himself once already on her account," she said, and
the old lady's brows contracted at the recollection. "Yes, hers was
the fitting end for such a woman. Even the death she chose was low and
"It's not for us to judge, Countess," said Sergei Ivanovich
sighing; "but I can understand that it has been very hard for you."
"Ah, don't speak of it! I was staying on my estate, and he was
with me. A note was brought him. He wrote an answer and sent it off.
We hadn't an idea that she was close by at the station. In the evening
I had only just gone to my room, when my Mary told me a lady had
thrown herself under the train. Something seemed to strike me at once.
I knew it was she. The first thing I said was that he was not to be
told. But they'd told him already. His coachman was there and saw it
all. When I ran into his room, he was beside himself——it was frightful
to see him. He didn't say a word, but galloped off there. I don't know
to this day what happened there, but he was brought back at death's
door. I shouldn't have known him. Prostration complete, the doctor
said. And that was followed almost by madness. Oh, why talk of it!"
said the Countess with a wave of her hand. "It was an awful time! No,
say what you will, she was a bad woman. Why, what is the meaning of
such desperate passions? It was all to show herself something out of
the ordinary. Well, and that she did do. She brought herself to ruin
and two good men——her husband, and my unhappy son."
"And what did her husband do?" asked Sergei Ivanovich.
"He has taken her daughter. Aliosha was ready to agree to anything
at first. Now it worries him terribly that he should have given his
own child away to another man. But he can't take back his word.
Karenin came to the funeral. But we tried to prevent his meeting
Aliosha. For him, for her husband, it was easier, anyway. She had set
him free. But my poor son was utterly given up to her. He had thrown
up everything, his career, me, and even then she had no mercy on him,
but of set purpose she made his ruin complete. No, say what you will,
her very death was the death of a vile woman, of no religious feeling.
God forgive me, but I can't help hating the memory of her, when I look
at my son's misery!"
"But how is he now?"
"It was a blessing from Providence for us——this Servian war. I'm
old, and I don't understand the rights and wrongs of it, but it's come
as a providential blessing to him. Of course for me, as his mother,
it's terrible; and what's worse, they say, ce n'est pas tres bien vu a
Petersbourg. But it can't be helped! It was the one thing that could
rouse him. Iashvin——a friend of his——he had lost all he had at cards
and he was going to Servia. He came to see him and persuaded him to
go. Now it's an interest for him. Do please talk to him a little. I
want to distract his mind. He's so low-spirited. And, as bad luck
would have it, he has toothache too. But he'll be delighted to see
you. Please do talk to him; he's walking up and down on that side."
Sergei Ivanovich said he would be very glad to, and crossed over
to the other side of the station.
In the slanting evening shadows cast by the baggage piled up on
the platform, Vronsky in his long overcoat and slouch hat, with his
hands in his pockets, strode up and down, like a wild beast in a cage,
turning sharply every twenty paces. Sergei Ivanovich fancied, as he
approached him, that Vronsky saw him but was pretending not to see.
This did not affect Sergei Ivanovich in the slightest. He was above
all personal considerations with Vronsky.
At that moment Sergei Ivanovich looked upon Vronsky as a man
taking an important part in a great cause, and Koznishev thought it
his duty to encourage him and express his approval. He went up to him.
Vronsky stood still, looked intently at him, recognized him, and
going a few steps forward to meet him, shook hands with him very
"Possibly you didn't wish to see me," said Sergei Ivanovich, "but
couldn't I be of use to you?"
"There's no one I should less dislike seeing than you," said
Vronsky. "Forgive me. There's nothing in life for me to like."
"I quite understand, and I merely meant to offer you my services,"
said Sergei Ivanovich, scanning Vronsky's face, full of unmistakable
suffering. "Wouldn't it be of use to you to have a letter to Ristich,
"Oh, no!" Vronsky said, seeming to understand him with difficulty.
"If you don't mind, let's walk on. It's so stuffy among the cars. A
letter? No, thank you; to meet death one needs no letters of
introduction. The Turks take..." he said, with a smile that was merely
of the lips. His eyes still kept their look of angry suffering.
"Yes; but you might find it easier to get into relations, which
are after all essential, with anyone prepared to see you. But that's
as you like. I was very glad to hear of your intention. There have
been so many attacks made on the volunteers, and a man like you raises
them in public estimation."
"My use as a man," said Vronsky, "is that life's worth nothing to
me. And that I've enough bodily energy to cut my way into their ranks,
and to trample on them or fall——I know that. I'm glad there's
something to give my life for, for it's not simply useless but
loathsome to me. Anyone's welcome to it." And his jaw twitched
impatiently from the incessant nagging toothache, that prevented him
from even speaking with a natural expression.
"You will become another man, I predict," said Sergei Ivanovich,
feeling touched. "To deliver one's brethren from bondage is an aim
worth death and life. God grant you success outwardly——and inwardly
peace," he added, and he held out his hand.
Vronsky warmly squeezed his outstretched hand.
"Yes, as a weapon I may be of some use. But as a man, I'm a
wreck," he jerked out.
He could hardly speak for the throbbing ache in his strong tooth,
his mouth being filled up with saliva. He was silent, and his eyes
rested on the wheels of the tender, slowly and smoothly rolling along
And all at once a different pain, not an ache, but an inner
trouble, that set his whole being in anguish, made him for an instant
forget his toothache. As he glanced at the tender and the rails, under
the influence of the conversation with a friend he had not met since
his misfortune, he suddenly recalled her——that is, what was left of
her when he had run like one distraught into the barrack of the
railway station: on the table, shamelessly sprawling out among
strangers, the bloodstained body so lately full of life; the head
unhurt dropping back with its weight of hair, and the curling tresses
about the temples, and the exquisite face, with red, half-opened
mouth, the strange, fixed expression, piteous on the lips and awful in
the still open eyes, that seemed to utter that fearful phrase——that he
would be sorry for it——which she had said when they were quarreling.
And he tried to think of her as she was when he met her the first
time, at a railway station too, mysterious, exquisite, loving, seeking
and giving happiness, and not cruelly revengeful as he remembered her
at that last moment. He tried to recall his best moments with her, but
those moments were poisoned forever. He could only think of her as
triumphant, successful in her menace of a wholly useless remorse,
never to be effaced. He lost all consciousness of toothache, and his
face worked with sobs.
Passing twice up and down beside the baggage in silence and
regaining his self-possession, he addressed Sergei Ivanovich calmly:
"You have had no telegrams since yesterday's? Yes, driven back for
a third time, but a decisive engagement expected for tomorrow."
And after talking a little more of the proclaiming of Milan as
King, and the immense effect this might have, they parted, going to
their cars on hearing the second bell.
Sergei Ivanovich had not telegraphed to his brother to send to
meet him, as he did not know when he should be able to leave Moscow.
Levin was not at home when Katavassov and Sergei Ivanovich, in a
wagonette hired at the station, drove up to the steps of the
Pokrovskoe house, as black as Negroes from the dust of the road.
Kitty, sitting on the balcony with her father and sister, recognized
her brother-in-law, and ran down to meet him.
"What a shame not to have let us know," she said, giving her hand
to Sergei Ivanovich, and putting her forehead up for him to kiss.
"We drove here capitally, and have not put you out," answered
Sergei Ivanovich. "I'm so dirty. I'm afraid to touch you. I've been so
busy, I didn't know when I should be able to tear myself away. And so
you're still as ever enjoying your peaceful, quiet happiness," he
said, smiling, "out of the reach of the current in your peaceful
backwater. Here's our friend Fiodor Vassilievich, successful in
getting here at last."
"But I'm not a Negro; I shall look like a human being when I
wash," said Katavassov in his jesting fashion, and he shook hands and
smiled, his teeth flashing white in his black face.
"Kostia will be delighted. He has gone to his grange. It's time he
should be home."
"Busy as ever with his farming. It really is a peaceful
backwater," said Katavassov; "while we in town think of nothing but
the Servian war. Well, how does our friend look at it? He's sure not
to think like other people."
"Oh, I don't know, he's like everybody else," Kitty answered, a
little embarrassed, looking round at Sergei Ivanovich. "I'll send to
fetch him. Papa's staying with us. He's only just come home from
And making arrangements to send for Levin and for the guests to
wash, one in his room and the other in what had been Dolly's, and
giving orders for their luncheon, Kitty ran out on the balcony,
enjoying the freedom and rapidity of movement, of which she had been
deprived during the months of her pregnancy.
"It's Sergei Ivanovich and Katavassov, a professor," she said.
"Oh, it's hard in such a heat," said the Prince.
"No, papa, he's very nice, and Kostia's very fond of him," Kitty
said, with a deprecating smile, noticing the irony on her father's
"Oh, I didn't say anything."
"You go to them, darling," said Kitty to her sister, "and
entertain them. They saw Stiva at the station; he was quite well. And
I must run to Mitia. As ill luck would have it, I haven't fed him
since tea. He's awake now, and sure to be screaming." And, feeling a
rush of milk, she hurried to the nursery.
This was not a mere guess; her connection with the child was still
so close that she could gauge by the flow of her milk his need of
food, and knew for certain he was hungry.
She knew he was crying before she reached the nursery. And he was
indeed crying. She heard him and hastened. But the faster she went the
louder he screamed. It was a fine healthy scream, hungry and
"Has he been screaming long, nurse——very long?" said Kitty,
hurriedly seating herself on a chair, and preparing to give the baby
the breast. "But give me him quickly. Oh, nurse, how tiresome you are!
There, tie the cap afterward, do!"
The baby's greedy scream was passing into sobs.
"But you can't manage so, ma'am," said Agathya Mikhailovna, who
was almost always to be found in the nursery. "He must be put
straight. A-oo! A-oo!" she chanted over him, paying no attention to
The nurse brought the baby to his mother. Agathya Mikhailovna
followed him with a face melting with tenderness.
"He knows me, he knows me. In God's faith, Katerina Alexandrovna,
ma'am, he recognized me!" Agathya Mikhailovna cried above the baby's
But Kitty did not hear her words. Her impatience kept growing,
like the baby's.
Their impatience hindered things for a while. The baby could not
get hold of the breast right, and was furious.
At last, after despairing, breathless screaming, and vain sucking,
things went right, and mother and child felt simultaneously soothed,
and both subsided into calm.
"But poor darling, he's all in perspiration!" said Kitty in a
whisper, touching the baby. "What makes you think he knows you?" she
added, with a sidelong glance at the baby's eyes, that peered
roguishly, as she fancied, from under his cap, at his rhythmically
puffing cheeks, and the little red-palmed hand he was waving.
"Impossible! If he knew anyone, he would have known me," said
Kitty, in response to Agathya Mikhailovna's statement, and she smiled.
She smiled because, though she said he could not know her, in her
heart she was sure that he knew not merely Agathya Mikhailovna, but
that he knew and understood everything, and knew and understood a
great deal too that no one else knew, and that she, his mother, had
learned and come to understand only through him. To Agathya
Mikhailovna, to the nurse, to his grandfather, to his father even,
Mitia was a living being, requiring only material care, but for his
mother he had long been a moral being, with whom there had been a
whole series of spiritual relations already.
"When he wakes up, please God, you shall see for yourself. Then
when I do like this, he simply beams on me, the darling! Simply beams
like a sunny day!" said Agathya Mikhailovna.
"Well, well; then we shall see," whispered Kitty. "But now go
away, he's going to sleep."
Agathya Mikhailovna went out on tiptoe; the nurse let down the
blind, chased flies out from under the muslin canopy of the crib, and
a hornet struggling on the window frame, and sat down waving a faded
branch of birch over the mother and the baby.
"How hot it is! If God would send a drop of rain," she said.
"Yes, yes, sh——sh——sh-" was all Kitty answered, rocking a little,
and tenderly squeezing the plump little arm, with rolls of fat at the
wrist, which Mitia still waved feebly as he opened and shut his eyes.
That hand worried Kitty; she longed to kiss the little hand, but was
afraid to for fear of waking the baby. At last the little hand ceased
waving, and the eyes closed. Only from time to time, as he went on
sucking, the baby raised his long, curly eyelashes and peeped at his
mother with humid eyes, that looked black in the twilight. The nurse
had left off fanning, and was dozing. From above came the peals of the
old Prince's voice, and the chuckle of Katavassov.
"They have got into talk, without me," thought Kitty, "but still
it's vexing that Kostia's out. He's sure to have gone to the beehouse
again. Though, it's a pity he's there so often, still I'm glad. It
distracts his mind. He's become altogether happier and better now than
in the spring. He used to be so gloomy and worried that I felt
frightened for him. And how absurd he is!" she whispered, smiling.
She knew what worried her husband. It was his unbelief. Although,
if she had been asked whether she supposed that in the future life, if
he did not believe, he would be damned, she would have had to admit
that he would be damned, his unbelief did not cause her unhappiness.
And she, confessing that for an unbeliever there can be no salvation,
and loving her husband's soul more than anything in the world, thought
with a smile of his unbelief, and told herself that he was absurd.
"What does he keep reading philosophy of some sort for all this
year?" she wondered. "If it's all written in those books, he can
understand them. If it's all wrong, why does he read them? He says
himself that he would like to believe. Then why is it he doesn't
believe? Surely from his thinking so much? And he thinks so much from
being solitary. He's always alone, alone. He can't talk about it all
to us. I fancy he'll be glad of these visitors, especially Katavassov.
He likes discussions with them," she thought, and passed instantly to
the consideration of where it would be more convenient to put
Katavassov, to sleep alone or to share Sergei Ivanovich's room. And
then an idea suddenly struck her, which made her shudder and even
disturb Mitia, who glanced severely at her. "I do believe the
laundress hasn't sent the washing yet, and all the guests' sheets are
in use. If I don't see to it, Agathya Mikhailovna will give Sergei
Ivanovich the used sheets," and at the very idea of this the blood
rushed to Kitty's face.
"Yes, I will arrange it," she decided, and going back to her
former thoughts, she remembered that some spiritual question of
importance had been interrupted, and she began to recall what. "Yes,
Kostia, an unbeliever," she thought again with a smile.
"Well, an unbeliever then! Better let him always be one than like
Madame Stahl, or what I tried to be in those days abroad. No, he won't
ever sham anything."
And a recent instance of his goodness rose vividly to her mind. A
fortnight ago a penitent letter had come from Stepan Arkadyevich to
Dolly. He besought her to save his honor, to sell her estate to pay
his debts. Dolly was in despair, she detested her husband, despised
him, pitied him, resolved on a separation, resolved to refuse, but
ended by agreeing to sell part of her property. After that, with an
irrepressible smile of tenderness, Kitty recalled her husband's
shamefaced embarrassment, his repeated awkward efforts to approach the
subject, and how at last, having thought of the one means of helping
Dolly without wounding her pride, he had suggested to Kitty——what had
not occurred to her before——that she should give up her share of the
"He an unbeliever indeed! With his heart, his dread of offending
anyone, even a child! Everything for others, nothing for himself.
Sergei Ivanovich simply considers it as Kostia's duty to be his
bailiff. And it's the same with his sister. Now Dolly and her children
are under his guardianship; all these peasants who come to him every
day, as though he were bound to be at their service."
"Yes, only be like your father——only like him," she said, handing
Mitia over to the nurse, and putting her lips to his cheek.
Ever since, by his beloved brother's deathbed, Levin had first
glanced into the questions of life and death in the light of these new
convictions, as he called them, which had during the period from his
twentieth to his thirty-fourth year imperceptibly replaced his
childish and youthful beliefs——he had been stricken with horror, not
so much of death, as of life, without any knowledge of whence, and
why, and how, and what it was. The physical organization, its decay,
the Indestructibility of matter, the law of the conservation of
energy, evolution, were the words which usurped the place of his old
belief. These words and the ideas associated with them were very well
for intellectual purposes. But for life they yielded nothing, and
Levin felt suddenly like a man who has changed his warm fur cloak for
a muslin garment, and going for the first time into the frost is
immediately convinced, not by reason, but by his whole nature, that he
is as good as naked, and that he must infallibly perish miserably.
From that moment, though he did not distinctly face it, and still
went on living as before, Levin had never lost this sense of terror at
his lack of knowledge.
He vaguely felt, too, that what he called his new convictions were
not merely lack of knowledge, but that they were part of a whole order
of ideas, in which no knowledge of what he needed was possible.
At first, marriage, with the new joys and duties bound up with it,
had completely crowded out these thoughts. But of late, while he was
staying in Moscow after his wife's confinement, with nothing to do,
the question that clamored for solution had more and more often, more
and more insistently, haunted Levin's mind.
The question was summed up for him thus: "If I do not accept the
answers Christianity gives to the problems of my life, what answers do
I accept?" And in the whole arsenal of his convictions, so far from
finding any satisfactory answers, he was utterly unable to find
anything at all like an answer.
He was in the position of a man seeking food in toyshops and
Instinctively, unconsciously, with every book, with every
conversation, with every man he met, he was on the lookout for light
on these questions and their solution.
What puzzled and distracted him above everything was that the
majority of men of his age and circle had, like him, exchanged their
old beliefs for the same new convictions, and yet saw nothing to
lament in this, and were perfectly satisfied and serene. So that,
apart from the principal question, Levin was tortured by other
questions too: were these people sincere? or were they playing a part?
or was it that they understood the answers science gave to these
problems in some different, clearer sense than he did? And he
assiduously studied both these men's opinions and the books which
treated of these scientific explanations.
One fact he had found out since these questions had engrossed his
mind——that he had been quite wrong in supposing, from the
recollections of the university circle of his young days, that
religion had outlived its day, and that it was now practically
nonexistent. All the people nearest to him who were good in their
lives were believers. The old Prince, and Lvov, whom he liked so much,
and Sergei Ivanovich; and all the women believed; and his wife
believed as simply as he had believed in his earliest childhood; and
ninety-nine hundredths of the Russian people, all the people for whose
life he felt the deepest respect, believed.
Another fact of which he became convinced, after reading many
books, was that the men who shared his views had no other construction
to put on them, and that they gave no explanation of the questions
which he felt he could not live without answering, but simply ignored
their existence and attempted to explain other questions of no
possible interest to him, such as the evolution of organisms, the
mechanistic theory of the soul, etc.
Moreover, during his wife's confinement, something had happened
that seemed extraordinary to him. He, an unbeliever, had fallen into
praying, and at the moment he prayed, he believed. But that moment had
passed, and he could not make his state of mind at that moment fit
into the rest of his life.
He could not admit that at that moment he knew the truth, and that
now he was wrong; for as soon as he began thinking calmly about it, it
all fell to pieces. He could not admit that he was mistaken then, for
his spiritual condition then was precious to him, and to admit that it
was a proof of weakness would have been to desecrate those moments. He
was miserably divided against himself, and strained all his spiritual
forces to the utmost to escape from this condition.
These doubts fretted and harassed him, growing weaker or stronger
from time to time, but never leaving him. He read and thought, and the
more he read and the more he thought, the further he felt from the aim
he was pursuing.
Of late in Moscow and in the country, since he had become
convinced that he would find no solution in the materialists, he had
read and reread thoroughly Plato, Spinoza, Kant, Schelling, Hegel, and
Schopenhauer——those philosophers who gave a nonmaterialistic
explanation of life.
Their ideas seemed to him fruitful when he was reading or was
himself seeking arguments to refute other theories, especially those
of the materialists; but as soon as he began to read or sought for
himself a solution of problems, the same thing always happened. As
long as he followed the fixed definition of vague words such as
spirit, will, freedom, substance, purposely letting himself go into
the snare of words the philosophers, or he himself, set for him, he
seemed to comprehend something. But he had only to forget the
artificial train of reasoning, and to turn from life itself to what
had satisfied him while thinking in accordance with the fixed
definitions, and all this artificial edifice fell to pieces at once
like a house of cards, and it became clear that the edifice had been
built up out of those transposed words, apart from a something in life
that was more important than reason.
At one time, reading Schopenhauer, he put in place of his will the
word love, and for a couple of days this new philosophy consoled him,
till he removed away from it. But then, when he turned from life
itself to glance at it again, it fell away too, and proved to be the
same muslin garment with no warmth in it.
His brother Sergei Ivanovich advised him to read the theological
works of Khomiakov. Levin read the second volume of Khomiakov's works,
and in spite of the elegant, epigrammatic, polemic style which at
first repelled him, he was impressed by the doctrine of the church he
found in them. He was struck at first by the idea that the
apprehension of divine truths had not been vouchsafed to man, but to a
corporation of men bound together by love——to Church. What delighted
him was the thought how much easier it was to believe in a still
existing living Church, embracing all the beliefs of men, and having
God at its head, and therefore holy and infallible, and from it to
accept the faith in God, in the creation, the fall, the redemption,
than to begin with God, a mysterious, faraway God, the creation, etc.
But afterward, on reading a Catholic writer's history of the Church,
and then a Greek orthodox writer's history of the Church, and seeing
that the two Churches, in their very conception infallible, each deny
the authority of the other, Khomiakov's doctrine of the Church lost
all its charm for him, and this edifice crumbled into dust like the
All that spring he was not himself, and went through fearful
moments of horror.
"Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life's impossible;
and that I can't know, and so I can't live," Levin said to himself.
"In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, is
formed a bubble organism, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts,
and that bubble is Me."
It was an agonizing error, but it was the sole logical result of
ages of human thought in that direction.
This was the ultimate belief on which all the systems elaborated
by human thought, in almost all their ramifications, rested. It was
the prevalent conviction, and of all other explanations Levin had
unconsciously, not knowing when or how, chosen it, as the clearest at
any rate, and made it his own.
But it was not merely a falsehood, it was the cruel jeer of some
wicked power, some evil, hateful power, to whom one could not submit.
He must escape from this power. And the means of escape every man
had in his own hands. He had but to cut short this dependence on evil.
And there was one means——death.
And Levin, a happy father and a man in perfect health, was several
times so near suicide that he hid the cord, lest he be tempted to hang
himself, and was afraid to go out with his gun, for fear of shooting
But Levin did not shoot himself, and did not hang himself; he went
When Levin thought what he was and what he was living for, he
could find no answer to the questions and was reduced to despair; but
when he left off questioning himself about it, it seemed as though he
knew both what he was and what he was living for, acting and living
resolutely and without hesitation; even in these latter days he was
far more decided and unhesitating in life than he had ever been.
When he went back to the country at the beginning of June, he went
back also to his usual pursuits. His agriculture, his relations with
the peasants and the neighbors, the care of his household, the
management of his sister's and brother's property, of which he had the
direction, his relations with his wife and kindred, the care of his
child, and the new beekeeping hobby he had taken up that spring,
filled all his time.
These things occupied him now, not because he justified them to
himself by any sort of general principles, as he had done in former
days; on the contrary, disappointed by the failure of his former
efforts for the general welfare, and too much occupied with his own
thought and the mass of business with which he was burdened from all
sides, he had completely given up thinking of the general good, and he
busied himself with all this work simply because it seemed to him that
he must do what he was doing——that he could not do otherwise.
In former days——almost from childhood, and increasingly up to full
manhood——when he had tried to do anything that would be good for all,
for humanity, for Russia, for the whole village, he had noticed that
the idea of it had been pleasant, but the work itself had always been
incoherent, that then he had never had a full conviction of its
absolute necessity, and that the work that had begun by seeming so
great, had grown less and less, till it vanished into nothing. But
now, since his marriage, when he had begun to confine himself more and
more to living for himself, though he experienced no delight at all at
the thought of the work he was doing, he felt a complete conviction of
its necessity, saw that it succeeded far better than in old days, and
that it kept on growing more and more.
Now, involuntarily it seemed, he cut more and more deeply into the
soil like a plough, so that he could not be drawn out without turning
aside the furrow.
To live the same family life as his father and forefathers——that
is, in the same condition of culture——and to bring up his children in
the same, was incontestably necessary. It was as necessary as dining
when one was hungry; and to do this, just as it was necessary to cook
dinner, it was necessary to keep the mechanism of agriculture at
Pokrovskoe going so as to yield an income. Just as incontestably as it
was necessary to repay a debt was it necessary to keep the patrimonial
estate in such a condition that his son, when he received it as a
heritage, would say "Thank you" to his father as Levin had said "Thank
you" to the grandfather for all he had built and planted. And to do
this it was necessary to look after the land himself, not to let it,
and to breed cattle, manure the fields, and plant timber.
It was impossible not to look after the affairs of Sergei
Ivanovich, of his sister, of all the peasants who came to him for
advice and were accustomed to do so——as impossible as to fling down a
child one is carrying in one's arms. It was necessary to look after
the comfort of his sister-in-law and her children, and of his wife and
baby, and it was impossible not to spend with them at least a short
time each day.
And all this, together with shooting and his new beekeeping,
filled up the whole of Levin's life, which had no meaning at all for
him, when he began to think.
But besides knowing thoroughly what he had to do, Levin knew in
just the same way how he had to do it all, and what was of more
importance than the rest.
He knew he must hire laborers as cheaply as possible; but to hire
men under bond, paying them in advance at less than the current rate
of wages, was what he must not do, even though it was very profitable.
Selling straw to the peasants in times of scarcity of provender was
what he might do, even though he felt sorry for them; but the tavern
and the pothouse must be put down, though they were a source of
income. Felling timber must be punished as severely as possible, but
he could not exact forfeits for cattle being driven into his fields;
and though it annoyed the keeper and made the peasants not afraid to
graze their cattle on his land, he could not keep their cattle as a
To Piotr, who was paying a moneylender ten per cent a month, he
must lend a sum of money to set him free; but he could not let off
peasants who did not pay their rent, nor let them fall into arrears.
It was impossible to overlook the bailiff's not having mown the
meadows and letting the hay spoil; and it was equally impossible to
mow eighty dessiatinas where a young copse had been planted. It was
impossible to excuse a laborer who had gone home in the busy season
because his father was dying, however sorry he might feel for him, and
he must subtract from his pay those costly months of idleness, but it
was impossible not to allow monthly rations to the old servants who
were of absolutely no use.
Levin knew also that when he got home he must first of all go to
his wife, who was unwell, and that the peasants who had been waiting
for three hours to see him could wait a little longer. He knew too
that, regardless of all the pleasure he felt in taking a swarm, he
must forego that pleasure, and leave the old man to see to the bees
alone, while he talked to the peasants who had come after him to the
Whether he were acting rightly or wrongly he did not know, and far
from trying to prove which it was nowadays he avoided all thought or
talk about it.
Reasoning had brought him to doubt, and prevented him from seeing
what he ought to do and what he ought not. When he did not think, but
simply lived, he was continually aware of the presence of an
infallible judge in his soul, determining which of two possible
courses of action was the better and which was the worse; and as soon
as he did not act rightly, he was at once aware of it.
So he lived, not knowing and not seeing any chance of knowing what
he was and what he was living for, and harassed at this lack of
knowledge to such a point that he was afraid of suicide, and yet
firmly laying down his own individual definite path in life.
The day on which Sergei Ivanovich came to Pokrovskoe was one of
Levin's most painful days.
It was the very busiest working time, when all the peasantry show
an extraordinary intensity of self-sacrifice in labor, such as is not
to be found in any other conditions of life and would be highly
esteemed if the men who showed these qualities themselves thought
highly of them, and if it were not repeated every year, and if the
results of this intense labor were not so simple.
To reap and bind and cart off the rye and oats; to mow the
meadows, turn over the fallows, thresh the seed and sow the winter
corn——all this seems so simple and ordinary; but to succeed in getting
through it all everyone in the village, from the old man to the young
child, must toil incessantly for three or four weeks, three times as
hard as usual, living on kvass, onions, and black bread, threshing and
carrying the sheaves at night, and not giving more than two or three
hours in the twenty-four to sleep. And every year this is done all
Having lived the greater part of his life in the country and in
the closest relations with the peasants, Levin always felt in this
busy time that he was infected by this general quickening of energy in
In the early morning he rode over to the first sowing of the rye,
and to the oats, which were being carried to the stacks, and,
returning home at the time his wife and sister-in-law were getting up,
he drank coffee with them and walked to the grange, where a new
threshing machine was to be set working to get ready the seed.
All this day Levin, while talking with the bailiff and the
peasants, and, at home, with his wife, and Dolly, and her children,
and his father-in-law, kept on thinking of one thing, and one thing
only——that which at this time engrossed him most outside of the cares
of his estate; and in everything he sought a relation to his
questioning: "What am I, then? And where am I? And why am I here?"
He was standing in the cool threshing barn, still fragrant with
the leaves of the hazel branches interlaced on the freshly peeled
aspen beams of the new thatch roof. He gazed through the open door in
which the dry bitter chaff dust swirled and played; at the grass of
the threshing floor in the sunlight and the fresh straw that had been
brought in from the barn; then at the speckly-headed, white-breasted
swallows that flew chirping in under the roof and, fluttering their
wings, settled in the crevices of the doorway; then at the peasants
bustling in the dark, dusty barn, and he thought strange thoughts.
"Why is all this being done?" he thought. "Why am I standing here,
making them work? What are they all so busy for, trying to show their
zeal before me? For what reason is old Matriona, my old friend,
toiling? (I doctored her, when the beam fell on her in the fire)," he
thought, looking at a thin old woman who was raking up the grain,
moving painfully with her bare, sun-blackened feet over the uneven,
rough floor. "Then she recovered, but today or tomorrow or in ten
years she won't; they'll bury her, and nothing will be left either of
her or of that dashing woman in the red skirt, who with that skillful,
gentle action is shaking the ears out of their husks. They'll bury
her, as well as this piebald gelding, and very soon too," he thought,
gazing at the heavily moving, panting horse that kept walking up the
treadwheel that turned under him. "And they will bury her, and Fiodor
the thresher with his curly beard full of chaff, and his shirt torn on
his white shoulders——they will bury him. He's untying the sheaves, and
giving orders, and shouting to the women, and quickly setting straight
the strap on the moving wheel. And what's more, it's not them alone——
they'll bury me too, and nothing will be left. What for? "
He thought this, and at the same time looked at his watch to
reckon how much they threshed in an hour. He wanted to know this so as
to judge by it the task to set for the day.
"It'll soon be one, and they're only beginning the third sheaf,"
thought Levin. He went up to the man who was feeding the machine, and
shouting over the roar of the machine, he told him to feed it more
"You put in too much at a time, Fiodor. Do you see——it gets
choked, that's why it isn't getting on. Do it evenly."
Fiodor, black with the dust that clung to his moist face, shouted
something in response, but still went on doing as Levin did not want
Levin, going up to the machine, moved Fiodor aside, and began
feeding the machine himself.
Working on till the peasants' dinner hour, which was not long in
coming, he went out of the barn with Fiodor and fell into talk with
him, stopping beside a neat yellow sheaf of rye laid on the threshing
floor for seed.
Fiodor came from a village at some distance from the one in which
Levin had once allotted land to his co-operative association. Now it
had been let to the innkeeper.
Levin talked to Fiodor about this land and asked whether Platon, a
well-to-do peasant of good character belonging to the same village,
would not take the land for the coming year.
"It's a high rent; it wouldn't pay Platon, Konstantin Dmitrich,"
answered the peasant, picking the ears off his sweat-drenched shirt.
"But how does Kirillov make it pay?"
"Mitukha!" (So the peasant called the innkeeper in a tone of
contempt.) "You may be sure he'll make it pay, Konstantin Dmitrich!
He'll get his share, however he has to squeeze to get it! He's no
mercy on a peasant. But Uncle Fokanich" (so he called the old peasant
Platon)——"do you suppose he'd flay the skin off a man? Where there's
debt, he'll let anyone off. And he'll suffer losses. He's human, too."
"But why will he let anyone off?"
"Oh, well, of course, folks are different. One man lives for his
own wants and nothing else, like Mitukha, thinking only of filling his
belly; but Fokanich is a righteous old man. He lives for his soul. He
does not forget God."
"How does he think of God? How does he live for his soul?" Levin
"Why, to be sure, in truth, in God's way. Folks are different.
Take you, now——you wouldn't wrong a man..."
"Yes, yes——good-by!" said Levin, breathless with excitement, and
turning round he took his stick and walked quickly away toward home.
At the peasant's words that Fokanich lived for his soul, in truth, in
God's way, undefined but significant ideas seemed to burst forth, as
though they had been locked up, and, all of them striving toward one
goal, they thronged whirling through his head, blinding him with their
Levin strode along the highroad, absorbed not so much in his
thoughts (he could not yet disentangle them), as in his spiritual
condition, unlike anything he had experienced before.
The words uttered by the peasant had acted on his soul like an
electric shock, suddenly transforming and combining into a single
whole the whole swarm of disjointed, impotent, separate thoughts that
incessantly occupied his mind. These thoughts had unconsciously been
in his mind even when he was talking about the land.
He was aware of something new in his soul, and joyfully tested
this new thing, not yet knowing what it was.
"Not living for his own wants, but for God? For what God? And
could one say anything more senseless than what he said? He said that
one must not live for one's own wants, that is, that one must not live
for what we understand, what we are attracted by, what we desire—— but
must live for something incomprehensible, for God, whom no one can
understand nor even define. What of it? Didn't I understand those
senseless words of Fiodor's? And understanding them, did I doubt their
truth? Did I think them stupid, obscure, inexact?
"No, I understood him, and exactly as he understands the words. I
understood them more fully and clearly than I understand anything in
life, and never in my life have I doubted nor can I doubt about them.
And not only I, but everyone, the whole world, understands nothing
fully but this, and about this only they have no doubt, and are always
"Fiodor says that Kirillov, the innkeeper, lives for his belly.
That's comprehensible and rational. All of us as rational beings can't
do anything else but live for our belly. And all of a sudden the same
Fiodor says that one mustn't live for one's belly, but must live for
truth, for God, and, at a hint, I understand him! And I and millions
of men, men who lived ages ago and men living now—— peasants, the poor
in spirit and the sages, who have thought and written about it, in
their obscure words saying the same thing——we are all agreed about
this one thing: what we must live for and what is good. I and all men
have only one firm, incontestable, clear knowledge, and that knowledge
cannot be explained by reason——it is outside it, and has no causes,
and can have no effects.
"If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects——a
reward——it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of
cause and effect.
"And yet I know it, and we all know it.
"And I sought miracles, complained that I did not see a miracle
which would convince me. And here is a miracle, the sole miracle
possible, continually existing, surrounding me on all sides, and I
never noticed it!
"What could be a greater miracle than that?
"Can I have found the solution of it all? Can my sufferings be
over?" thought Levin, striding along the dusty road, not noticing the
heat nor his weariness, and experiencing a sense of relief from
prolonged suffering. This feeling was so delicious that it seemed to
him incredible. He was breathless with emotion and incapable of going
farther; he turned off the road into the forest and lay down in the
shade of an aspen on the uncut grass. He took his hat off his hot head
and lay propped on his elbow in the lush, feathery, woodland grass.
"Yes, I must make it clear to myself and understand," he thought,
looking intently at the untrampled grass before him, and following the
movements of a green beetle, advancing along a blade of couch grass
and lifting up in its progress a leaf of goatweed. "Everything from
beginning?" he asked himself, bending aside the leaf of goatweed out
of the beetle's way and twisting another blade of grass above for the
beetle to cross over to. "What is it makes me glad? What have I
"Of old I used to say that in my body, that in the body of this
grass and of this beetle (there, she didn't care for the grass, she's
opened her wings and flown away), there was going on a transformation
of matter in accordance with physical, chemical, and physiological
laws. And in all of us, as well as in the aspens and clouds and
nebulae, there was a process of evolution. Evolution from what? Into
what?——Eternal evolution and struggle... As though there could be any
sort of tendency and struggle in the eternal! And I was astonished
that in spite of utmost effort of thought in this direction I could
not discover the meaning of life, the meaning of my impulses and
yearnings. And the meaning of my impulses is so clear within me, that
I was living according to them all the time, and I was astonished and
rejoiced, when the peasant expressed it to me: to live for God, for my
"I have discovered nothing. I have only found out what I knew. I
understand the force that in the past gave me life, and now too gives
me life. I have been set free from falsity, I have found the Master."
And he briefly went through, mentally, the whole course of his
ideas during the last two years, the beginning of which was the clear
confronting of death at the sight of his dear brother hopelessly ill.
Then, for the first time, grasping that for every man, and himself
too, there was nothing in store but suffering, death and eternal
oblivion, he had made up his mind that life was impossible like that,
and that he must either interpret life so that it would not present
itself to him as the evil jest of some devil, or else shoot himself.
But he had not done either, but had gone on living, thinking, and
feeling, and had even at that very time married, and had had many
joys, and had been happy, when he was not thinking of the meaning of
What did this mean? It meant that he had been living rightly, but
He had lived (without being aware of it) on those spiritual truths
that he had sucked in with his mother's milk, but he had thought, not
merely without recognition of these truths, but studiously ignoring
Now it was clear to him that he could live only by virtue of the
beliefs in which he had been brought up.
"What should I have been, and how should I have spent my life, if
I had not had these beliefs, if I had not known that I must live for
God and not for my own wants? I should have robbed and lied and
killed. Nothing of what makes the chief happiness of my life would
have existed for me." And with the utmost stretch of imagination he
could not conceive the brutal creature he would have been himself, if
he had not known what he was living for.
"I looked for an answer to my question. And thought could not give
an answer to my question——it is incommensurable with my question. The
answer has been given me by life itself, in my knowledge of what is
right and what is wrong. And that knowledge I did not arrive at in any
way, it was given to me as to all men, given, because I could not have
got it from anywhere.
"Where could I have got it? Could I have arrived through reason at
knowing that I must love my neighbor and not oppress him? I was told
that in my childhood, and I believed it gladly, for they told me what
was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason. Reason
discovered the struggle for existence, and the law that requires us to
oppress all who hinder the satisfaction of our desires. That is the
deduction of reason. But loving one's neighbor reason could never
discover, because that is unreasonable.
"Yes, pride," he said to himself, turning over on his abdomen and
beginning to tie a noose of blades of grass, trying not to break them.
"And not merely pride of intellect, but dullness of intellect. And
most of all, its knavishness; yes, the knavishness of intellect. The
cheating knavishness of intellect——that's it," he repeated.
And Levin remembered a scene he had lately witnessed between Dolly
and her children. The children, left to themselves, had begun cooking
raspberries over the candles and squirting milk into each other's
mouths with a syringe. Their mother, catching them at these pranks,
began reminding them in Levin's presence of the trouble their mischief
gave to the grown-up people, and that this trouble was all for their
sake, and that if they smashed the cups they would have nothing to
drink their tea out of, and that if they wasted the milk, they would
have nothing to eat, and die of hunger.
And Levin had been struck by the passive, weary incredulity with
which the children heard what their mother said to them. They were
simply annoyed that their amusing play had been interrupted, and did
not believe a word of what their mother was saying. They could not
believe it indeed, for they could not take in the immensity of all
they habitually enjoyed, and so could not conceive that what they were
destroying was the very thing they lived by.
"That all comes of itself," they thought, "and there's nothing
interesting or important about it, because it has always been so, and
always will be so. And it's all always the same. We've no need to
think about that, it's all ready; but we want to invent something of
our own, and new. So we thought of putting raspberries in a cup, and
cooking them over a candle, and squirting milk straight into each
other's mouths. That's fun, and something new, and not a bit worse
than drinking out of cups."
"Isn't it just the same that we do, that I did, searching by the
aid of reason for the significance of the forces of nature and the
meaning of the life of man?" he thought.
"And don't all the theories of philosophy do the same, trying by
the path of thought, which is strange and not natural to man, to bring
him to a knowledge of what he has known long ago, and knows so
certainly that he could not live at all without it? Isn't it
distinctly to be seen in the development of each philosopher's theory,
that he knows what is the chief significance of life beforehand, just
as positively as the peasant Fiodor, and not a bit more clearly than
he, and is simply trying by a dubious intellectual path to come back
to what everyone knows?
"Now then, leave the children to themselves to get things alone
and make their crockery, get the milk from the cows, and so on. Would
they be naughty then? Why, they'd die of hunger! Well, then, leave us
with our passions and thoughts, without any idea of the one God, of
the Creator, or without any idea of what is right, without any idea of
"Just try and build up anything without those ideas!
"We destroy them only because we're spiritually provided for.
Exactly like the children!
"Whence have I that joyful knowledge, shared with the peasant,
that alone gives peace to my soul? Whence did I get it?
"Brought up with an idea of God, a Christian, my whole life filled
with the spiritual blessings Christianity has given me, full of them,
and living on these blessings, like the children I did not understand
them, and destroy——that is, try to destroy——what I live by. And as
soon as an important moment of life comes, like the children when they
are cold and hungry, I turn to Him, and even less than the children
when their mother's scold them for their childish mischief, do I feel
that my childish efforts at wanton madness are reckoned against me.
"Yes, what I know, I know not by reason——but it has been given to
me, revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by faith in the chief
thing taught by the Church.
"The Church? The Church!" Levin repeated to himself. He turned
over on the other side, and, leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing into
the distance at a herd of cattle crossing over to the river.
"But can I believe in all the Church teaches?" he thought, putting
himself to the test, and thinking of everything that could destroy his
present peace of mind. Intentionally he recalled all those doctrines
of the Church which had always seemed most strange and had always been
a stumbling block to him. The Creation? But how did I explain
existence? By existence? By nothing? The devil and sin. But how do I
explain evil?... The Redeemer?...
"But I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has
been told to me and all men."
And it seemed to him now that there was not a single article of
faith of the Church which could destroy the chief thing——faith in God,
in goodness, as the one goal of man's destiny.
Under every article of faith of the Church could be put the faith
in the service of truth instead of one's wants. And each doctrine did
not simply leave that faith unshaken——each doctrine seemed essential
to complete that great miracle, continually manifest upon earth, that
made it possible for each man, and millions of different sorts of men——
wise men and imbeciles, old men and children——all men, peasants, Lvov,
Kitty, beggars and kings, to understand perfectly the same one thing,
and to build up thereby that life of the soul which alone is worth
living, and which alone is precious to us.
Lying on his back, he gazed up now into the high, cloudless sky.
"Do I not know that that is infinite space, and that it is not a round
arch? But, however I screw up my eyes and strain my sight, I cannot
see it as not round and not bounded, and, in spite of my knowing about
infinite space, I am incontestably right when I see a solid blue dome,
and more right than when I strain my eyes to see beyond it."
Levin ceased thinking, and only, as it were, listened to
mysterious voices that seemed talking joyfully and earnestly with each
"Can this be faith?" he thought, afraid to believe in his
happiness. "My God, I thank Thee!" he said, gulping down his sobs, and
with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his eyes.
Levin looked before him and saw a herd of cattle, then he caught
sight of his wagonette with Black in the shafts, and the coachman,
who, driving up to the herd, said something to the herdsman. Then he
heard the rattle of the wheels and the snort of the sleek horse close
by him. But he was so buried in his thoughts that he did not even
wonder why the coachman had come for him.
He only thought of that when the coachman had driven quite up to
him and shouted to him.
"The mistress sent me. Your brother has come, and some gentleman
Levin got into the wagonette and took the reins.
As though just roused out of sleep, for a long while Levin could
not collect his faculties. He stared at the sleek horse flecked with
lather between his haunches and on his neck, where the harness rubbed,
stared at Ivan the coachman, sitting beside him, and remembered that
he was expecting his brother, thought that his wife was most likely
uneasy at his long absence, and tried to guess who was the visitor who
had come with his brother. And his brother and his wife and the
unknown guest seemed to him now quite different from before. He
fancied that now his relations with all men would be different.
"With my brother there will be none of that aloofness there always
used to be between us, there will be no disputes; with Kitty there
shall never be quarrels; with the visitor, whoever he may be, I will
be friendly and amiable; and with the servants, with Ivan——it will all
Pulling the stiff rein and holding in the good horse that snorted
with impatience and begged to be let go, Levin looked round at Ivan
sitting beside him, not knowing what to do with his unoccupied hands,
continually pressing down his shirt as it puffed out, and he tried to
find something to start a conversation about with him. He would have
said that Ivan had pulled the saddle girth up too high, but that was
like blame, and he longed for friendly, warm talk. Nothing else
occurred to him.
"Your Honor must keep to the right and mind that stump," said the
coachman, pulling the rein Levin held.
"Please don't touch anything and don't teach me!" said Levin,
angered by this interference. Now, as always, interference made him
angry, and he felt sorrowfully at once how mistaken had been his
supposition that his spiritual condition could immediately change him
in contact with reality.
He was not a quarter of a versta from home when he saw Grisha and
Tania running to meet him.
"Uncle Kostia! Mamma's coming, and grandfather, and Sergei
Ivanovich, and someone else," they said, clambering up into the
"Who is he?"
"An awfully terrible person! And he does like this with his arms,"
said Tania, getting up in the wagonette and mimicking Katavassov.
"Old or young?" asked Levin, laughing, reminded of someone, he did
not know whom, by Tania's performance.
"Oh, I hope it's not a tiresome person!" thought Levin.
As soon as he turned, at a bend in the road, and saw the party
coming, Levin recognized Katavassov in a straw hat, walking along
swinging his arms just as Tania had shown him.
Katavassov was very fond of discussing metaphysics, having derived
his notions from natural science writers who had never studied
metaphysics, and in Moscow Levin had had many arguments with him of
And one of these arguments, in which Katavassov had obviously
considered that he came off victorious, was the first thing Levin
thought of as he recognized him.
"No, whatever I do, I won't argue and give utterance to my ideas
lightly," he thought.
Getting out of the wagonette and greeting his brother and
Katavassov, Levin asked about his wife.
"She has taken Mitia to Kolok" (a copse near the house). "She
meant to have him out there because it's so hot indoors," said Dolly.
Levin had always advised his wife not to take the baby to the wood,
thinking it unsafe, and he was not pleased to hear this.
"She rushes about from place to place with him," said the Prince,
smiling. "I advised her to try putting him in the icehouse."
"She meant to come to the apiary. She thought you would be there.
We are going there," said Dolly.
"Well, and what are you doing?" said Sergei Ivanovich, falling
back from the rest and walking beside him.
"Oh, nothing special. Busy as usual with the land," answered
Levin. "Well, and what about you? Come for long? We have been
expecting you for such a long time."
"Only for a fortnight. I've a great deal to do in Moscow."
At these words the brothers' eyes met, and Levin, in spite of the
desire he always had, stronger than ever just now, to be on
affectionate and still more open terms with his brother, felt an
awkwardness in looking at him. He dropped his eyes and did not know
what to say.
Casting over the subjects of conversation that would be pleasant
to Sergei Ivanovich, and would keep him off the subject of the Servian
war and the Slavonic question, at which he had hinted by alluding to
what he had to do in Moscow, Levin began to talk of Sergei Ivanovich's
"Well, have there been any reviews of your book?" he asked.
Sergei Ivanovich smiled at the intentional character of the
"No one is interested in that now, and I least of all," he said.
"Just look, Darya Alexandrovna, we shall have a shower," he added,
pointing with a sunshade at the white rain clouds that showed above
the aspen treetops.
And these words were enough to reestablish again between the
brothers that tone——hardly hostile, but chilly——which Levin had been
so longing to avoid.
Levin went up to Katavassov.
"It was jolly of you to make up your mind to come," he said to him.
"I've been intending to a long while. Now we shall have some
discussion——we'll see to that. Have you been reading Spencer?"
"No, I've not finished reading him," said Levin. "But I don't need
"How's that? That's interesting. Why so?"
"I mean that I'm fully convinced that the solution of the problems
that interest me I shall never find in him and his like. Now..."
But Katavassov's serene and good-humored expression suddenly
struck him, and he felt such tenderness for his own happy mood, which
he was unmistakably disturbing by this conversation, that he
remembered his resolution and stopped short.
"But we'll talk later on," he added. "If we're going to the
apiary, it's this way, along this little path," he said, addressing
Going along the narrow path to a little uncut meadow covered on
one side with thick clumps of brilliant heartsease, among which stood
up here and there tall, dark green tufts of hellebore, Levin settled
his guests in the dense, cool shade of the young aspens on a bench and
some stumps purposely put there for visitors to the apiary who might
be afraid of the bees, and he went off himself to the hut to get
bread, cucumbers, and fresh honey, to regale them with.
Trying to make his movements as deliberate as possible, and
listening to the bees that buzzed more and more frequently past him,
he walked along the little path to the hut. In the very entry one bee
hummed angrily, caught in his beard, but he carefully extricated it.
Going into the shady outer room, he took down from the wall his veil,
that hung on a peg, and putting it on, and thrusting his hands into
his pockets, he went into the fenced-in bee garden, where there stood
in the midst of a closely mown space in regular rows, fastened with
bast on posts, all the hives he knew so well, the old stocks, each
with its own history, and along the fences the younger swarms hived
that year. In front of the openings of the hives, it made his eyes
giddy to watch the bees and drones whirling round and round about the
same spot, while among them the worker bees flew in and out with
spoils, or in search of them, always in the same direction, into the
wood, to the flowering linden trees, and back to the hives.
His ears were filled with the incessant hum in various notes——now
the busy hum of the worker bee flying quickly off, then the blaring of
the lazy drone, and the excited buzz of the bees on guard, protecting
their property from the enemy and preparing to sting. On the farther
side of the fence the old beekeeper was shaving a hoop for a tub, and
he did not see Levin. Levin stood still in the midst of the apiary and
did not call him.
He was glad of a chance to be alone to recover from the influence
of ordinary actual life, which had already depressed his happy mood.
He thought that he had already had time to lose his temper with
Ivan, to show coolness to his brother, and to talk flippantly with
"Can it have been only a momentary mood, and will it pass and
leave no trace?" he thought.
But the same instant, going back to his mood, he felt with delight
that something new and important had happened to him. Real life had
only for a time overcast the spiritual peace he had found, but it was
still untouched within him.
Just as the bees, whirling round him, now menacing him and
distracting his attention, prevented him from enjoying complete
physical peace, forced him to restrain his movements to avoid them, so
had the petty cares that had swarmed about him from the moment he got
into the trap, restricted his spiritual freedom; but that lasted only
so long as he was among them. Just as his bodily strength was still
unaffected, in spite of the bees, so too was the spiritual strength
that he had just become aware of.
"Do you know, Kostia, with whom Sergei Ivanovich traveled on his
way here?" said Dolly, doling out cucumbers and honey to the children.
"With Vronsky! He's going to Servia."
"And not alone; he's taking a squadron out with him at his own
expense," said Katavassov.
"That's the right thing for him," said Levin. "Are volunteers
still going out then?" he added, glancing at Sergei Ivanovich.
Sergei Ivanovich did not answer. He was carefully, with a blunt
knife, getting a live bee covered with sticky honey out of a cup full
of white honeycomb.
"I should think so! You should have seen what was going on at the
station yesterday!" said Katavassov, biting with a succulent sound
into a cucumber.
"Well, what is one to make of it? In Christ's name, do explain to
me, Sergei Ivanovich, where are all those volunteers going, whom are
they fighting with," asked the old Prince, unmistakably taking up a
conversation that had sprung up in Levin's absence.
"With the Turks," Sergei Ivanovich answered, smiling serenely, as
he extricated the bee, dark with honey and helplessly kicking, and
transferred it with the knife to a stout aspen leaf.
"But who has declared war on the Turks?——Ivan Ivanovich Ragozov
and Countess Lidia Ivanovna, assisted by Madame Stahl?"
"No one has declared war, but people sympathize with their
neighbors' suffering, and are eager to help them," said Sergei
"But the Prince is not speaking of help," said Levin, coming to
the assistance of his father-in-law, "but of war. The Prince says that
private persons cannot take part in war without the permission of the
"Kostia, mind, that's a bee! Really, they'll sting us!" said
Dolly, waving away a wasp.
"But that's not a bee——it's a wasp," said Levin.
"Well now, well——what's your own theory?" Katavassov said to Levin
with a smile, distinctly challenging him to a discussion. "Why haven't
private persons the right to do so?"
"Oh, my theory's this: war is on one side such a beastly, cruel
and awful thing, that no one man, not to speak of a Christian, can
individually take upon himself the responsibility of beginning wars;
that can only be done by a government, which is called upon to do
this, and is driven inevitably into war. On the other hand, both
political science and common sense teach us that in matters of state,
and especially in the matter of war, private citizens must forego
their personal individual will."
Sergei Ivanovich and Katavassov had their replies ready, and both
began speaking at the same time.
"But the point is, my dear fellow, that there may be cases when
the government does not carry out the will of the citizens, and then
the public asserts its will," said Katavassov.
But evidently Sergei Ivanovich did not approve of this answer. His
brows contracted at Katavassov's words, and he said something else.
"You don't put the matter in its true light. There is no question
here of a declaration of war, but simply the expression of a human
Christian feeling. Our brothers, one with us in religion and in race,
are being massacred. Even supposing they were not our brothers, nor
fellow Christians, but simply children, women, old people, feeling is
aroused and Russians go eagerly to help in stopping these atrocities.
Fancy, if you were going along the street and saw drunken men beating
a woman or a child——I imagine you would not stop to inquire whether
war had been declared on the men, but would throw yourself on them,
and protect the victim."
"But I should not kill them," said Levin.
"Yes, you would kill them."
"I don't know. If I saw that, I might give way to my impulse of
the moment, but I can't say beforehand. And such a momentary impulse
there is not, and there cannot be, in the case of the oppression of
the Slavonic peoples."
"Possibly for you there is not; but for others there is," said
Sergei Ivanovich, frowning with displeasure. "There are traditions
still extant among our people about orthodox men, suffering under the
yoke of the 'impious Hagarites.' The people have heard of the
sufferings of their brethren, and have spoken."
"Perhaps so," said Levin evasively; "but I don't see it. I'm one
of the people myself, and I don't feel it."
"Here am I, too," said the old Prince. "I've been staying abroad
and reading the papers, and I must own, up to the time of the
Bulgarian atrocities, I couldn't make out why it was all the Russians
were all of a sudden so fond of their Slavonic brethren, while I
didn't feel the slightest affection for them. I was very much upset,
thought I was a monster, or that it was the influence of Carlsbad on
me. But since I have been here, my mind's been set at rest. I see that
there are people besides me who're only interested in Russia, and not
in their Slavonic brethren. Here's Konstantin, too."
"Personal opinions mean nothing in such a case," said Sergei
Ivanovich; "it's not a matter of personal opinions when all Russia——
the whole people——has expressed its will."
"But excuse me, I don't see that. The people don't know anything
about it, if you come to that," said the old Prince.
"Oh, papa!... How can you say that? And last Sunday in church?..."
said Dolly, listening to the conversation. "Please give me a towel,"
she said to the old man, who was looking at the children with a smile.
"Why, it's not possible that all..."
"But what was it in church on Sunday? The priest had been told to
read that. He read it. They didn't understand a word of it, sighed as
they do at every sermon," pursued the old Prince. "Then they were told
that there was to be a collection for a pious object in church; well,
they pulled out their coppers and gave them, but what for they
"The people cannot help knowing; the sense of their own destinies
is always in the people, and at such moments as the present that sense
finds utterance," said Sergei Ivanovich with conviction, glancing at
the old beekeeper.
The handsome old man, with black grizzled beard and thick silvery
hair, stood motionless, holding a cup of honey, looking down from the
height of his tall figure with friendly serenity at the gentlefolk,
obviously understanding nothing of their conversation and not caring
to understand it.
"That's so, no doubt," he said, with a significant shake of his
head at Sergei Ivanovich's words.
"Here, then, ask him. He knows nothing about it and thinks
nothing," said Levin. "Have you heard about the war, Mikhailich?" he
said, turning to him. "What they read in the church? What do you think
about it? Ought we to fight for the Christians?"
"What should we think? Alexander Nikolaevich our Emperor has
thought for us; he thinks for us indeed in all things. It's clearer
for him to see. Shall I bring a bit more bread? Give the little lad
some more?" he said, addressing Darya Alexandrovna and pointing to
Grisha, who was finishing his crust.
"I don't need to ask," said Sergei Ivanovich, "we have seen and
are seeing hundreds and hundreds of people who give up everything to
serve a just cause, come from every part of Russia, and directly and
clearly express their thought and aim. They bring their coppers, or go
themselves and say directly what's what. What does it mean?"
"It means, to my thinking," said Levin, who was beginning to get
warm, "that among eighty millions of people there can always be found
not hundreds, as now, but tens of thousands of people who have lost
caste, ne'er-do-wells, who are always ready to go anywhere——to
Pugachiov's bands, to Khiva, to Servia..."
"I tell you that it's not a case of hundreds or of ne'er-do-wells,
but the best representatives of the people!" said Sergei Ivanovich,
with as much irritation as if he were defending the last penny of his
fortune. "And what of the subscriptions? In this case it is a whole
people directly expressing their will."
"That word 'people' is so vague," said Levin. "Parish clerks,
schoolmasters, and one in a thousand of the peasants, maybe, know what
it's all about. The rest of the eighty millions, like Mikhailich, far
from expressing their will, haven't the faintest idea what there is
for them to express their will about. What right have we to say that
this is the people's will?"
Sergei Ivanovich, being practiced in dialectics, did not reply,
but at once turned the conversation to another aspect of the subject.
"Oh, if you want to learn the spirit of the people by arithmetical
computation, of course it's very difficult to arrive at it. And voting
has not been introduced among us, and cannot be introduced, for it
does not express the will of the people; but there are other ways of
reaching that. It is felt in the air, it is felt by the heart. I won't
speak of those deep currents which are astir in the still ocean of the
people, and which are evident to every unprejudiced man——let us look
at society in the narrow sense. All the most diverse sections of the
intelligent people, hostile before, are merged in one. Every division
is at an end, all the public organs say the same thing over and over
again, all feel the mighty torrent that has overtaken them and is
carrying them in one direction."
"Yes, all the newspapers do say the same thing," said the Prince.
"That's true. But so it is the same thing that all the frogs croak
before storm. One can hear nothing for them."
"Frogs or no frogs, I'm not the publisher of newspapers and I
don't want to defend them; but I am speaking of the unanimity in the
intellectual world," said Sergei Ivanovich, addressing his brother.
Levin would have answered, but the old Prince interrupted him.
"Well, about that unanimity, that's another thing, one may say,"
said the Prince. "There's my son-in-law, Stepan Arkadyevich——you know
him. He's got a place now on the committee of a commission and
something or other, I don't remember. Only there's nothing to do in
it——why, Dolly, it's no secret——and a salary of eight thousand! You
try asking him whether his post is of any use——he'll prove to you that
it's most necessary. And he's a truthful man, too, but one can't help
but believe in the utility of eight thousand roubles."
"Yes——he asked me to give a message to Darya Alexandrovna about
the post," said Sergei Ivanovich reluctantly, feeling the Prince's
remark to be ill-timed.
"So it is with the unanimity of the press. That's been explained
to me: as soon as there's war their incomes are doubled. How can they
help believing in the destinies of the people and the Slavonic races——
and all that sort of thing?..."
"I don't care for many of the papers, but that's unjust," said
"I would only make one condition," pursued the old Prince.
"Alphonse Karr said a capital thing before the war with Prussia: 'You
consider war to be inevitable? Very good. Let everyone who advocates
war be enrolled in a special regiment of advance guards, for the
vanguard of every assault, of every attack, to lead them all!'"
"A nice lot the editors would make!" said Katavassov, with a loud
roar, as he pictured the editors he knew in this picked legion.
"But they'd run," said Dolly. "They'd only be in the way."
"Oh, if they ran away, then we'd have grapeshot or Cossacks with
whips behind them," said the Prince.
"But that's a joke, and a poor one too, if you'll excuse me saying
so, Prince," said Sergei Ivanovich.
"I don't see that it was a joke, that... Levin was beginning, but
Sergei Ivanovich interrupted him.
"Every member of society is called upon to do his own special
work," said he. "And men of thought are doing their work when they
express public opinion. And the singlehearted and full expression of
public opinion is the service of the press, and a phenomenon to
rejoice us at the same time. Twenty years ago we should have been
silent, but now we have heard the voice of the Russian people, which
is ready to rise as one man and ready to sacrifice itself for its
oppressed brethren; that is a great step and a proof of strength."
"But it's not only making a sacrifice, but killing Turks," said
Levin timidly. "The people make sacrifices and are ready to make
sacrifices for their soul, but not for murder," he added,
instinctively connecting the conversation with the ideas that had been
absorbing his mind.
"For their soul? That, you understand, is a most puzzling
expression for a student of the natural sciences. What sort of thing
is the soul?" said Katavassov, smiling.
"Oh, you know!"
"No, by God, I haven't the faintest idea!" said Katavassov with a
loud roar of laughter.
"'I bring not peace, but a sword,' says Christ," Sergei Ivanovich
rejoined for his part, quoting as simply as though it were the easiest
thing to understand the very passage that had always puzzled Levin
"That's so, no doubt," the old man repeated again. He was standing
near them and responded to a chance glance turned in his direction.
"Ah, my dear fellow, you're defeated, utterly defeated!" cried
Levin reddened with vexation, not at being defeated, but at having
failed to control himself and being drawn into argument.
"No, I can't argue with them," he thought; "they wear impenetrable
armor, while I'm naked."
He saw that it was impossible to convince his brother and
Katavassov, and he saw even less possibility of himself agreeing with
them. What they advocated was the very pride of intellect that had
almost been his ruin. He could not admit that some dozens of men,
among them his brother, had the right, on the ground of what they were
told by some hundreds of glib volunteers swarming to the capital, to
say that they and the newspapers were expressing the will and feeling
of the people, and a feeling which was expressed in vengeance and
murder. He could not admit this, because he neither saw the expression
of such feelings in the people among whom he was living, nor found
them in himself (and he could not but consider himself one of the
persons making up the Russian people), and most of all because he,
like the people, did not know and could not know what is for the
general good, though he knew beyond a doubt that this general good
could be attained only by the strict observance of that law of right
and wrong which has been revealed to every man, and therefore he could
not wish for war or advocate war for any general objects whatever. He
said as Mikhailich did and the people, who had expressed their feeling
in the traditional invitations to the Variaghi: "Be princes and rule
over us. Gladly we promise complete submission. All the labor, all
humiliations, all sacrifices we take upon ourselves; but we will not
judge and decide." And now, according to Sergei Ivanovich's account,
the people had foregone this privilege they had bought at such a
He wanted to say, too, that if public opinion were an infallible
guide, then why were not revolutions and the commune as lawful as the
movement in favor of the Slavonic peoples? But these were merely
thoughts that could settle nothing. One thing could be seen beyond
doubt——that at the actual moment the discussion was irritating Sergei
Ivanovich, and so it was wrong to continue it. And Levin ceased
speaking and then called the attention of his guests to the fact that
the storm clouds were gathering, and that they had better be going
home before it rained.
The old Prince and Sergei Ivanovich got into the wagonette and
drove off; the rest of the party hastened homeward on foot.
But the storm clouds, turning white and then black, moved down so
quickly that they had to quicken their pace to get home before the
rain. The foremost clouds, lowering and black as soot-laden smoke,
rushed with extraordinary swiftness over the sky. They were still two
hundred paces from home and a gust of wind had already blown up, and
every second the downpour might be looked for.
The children ran ahead with frightened and gleeful shrieks. Darya
Alexandrovna, struggling painfully with her skirts clinging round her
legs, was not walking, but running, her eyes fixed on the children.
The men of the party, holding their hats on, strode with long steps
beside her. They were just at the steps when a big drop fell splashing
on the edge of the iron guttering. The children and their elders after
them ran into the shelter of the house, talking merrily.
"Katerina Alexandrovna?" Levin asked of Agathya Mikhailovna, who
met them with shawls and plaids in the hall.
"We thought she was with you," she said.
"In Kolok, he must be, and the nurse with him."
Levin snatched up the plaids and ran toward the copse.
In that brief interval of time the storm clouds had moved on,
covering the sun so completely that it was dark as an eclipse.
Stubbornly, as though insisting on its rights, the wind stopped Levin,
and tearing the leaves and flowers off the linden trees and stripping
the white birch branches into strange unseemly nakedness, it twisted
everything to one side——acacias, flowers, burdocks, long grass, and
tall treetops. The peasant girls working in the garden ran shrieking
into shelter in the servants' quarters. The streaming rain had already
flung its white veil over all the distant forest and half the fields
close by, and was rapidly swooping down upon the copse. The wet of the
rain spurting up in tiny drops could be smelled in the air.
Holding his head bent down before him, and struggling with the
wind that strove to tear the wraps away from him, Levin was moving up
to the copse and had just caught sight of something white behind the
oak tree, when there was a sudden flash, the whole earth seemed on
fire, and the vault of heaven seemed crashing overhead. Opening his
blinded eyes, Levin gazed through the thick veil of rain that
separated him now from the copse, and to his horror the first thing he
saw was the green crest of the familiar oak tree in the middle of the
copse uncannily changing its position. "Can it have been struck?"
Levin hardly had time to think when, moving more and more rapidly, the
oak tree vanished behind the other trees, and he heard the crash of
the great tree falling upon the others.
The flash of lightning, the crash of thunder, and the
instantaneous chill that ran through him were all merged for Levin in
one sense of terror.
"My God! My God! Not on them!" he said.
And though he thought at once how senseless was his prayer that
they should not have been killed by the oak which had fallen now, he
repeated it, knowing that he could do nothing better than utter this
Running up to the place where they usually went, he did not find
They were at the other end of the copse under an old linden tree;
they were calling him. Two figures in dark dresses (they had been
light summer dresses when they started out) were standing bending over
something. It was Kitty with the nurse. The rain was already ceasing,
and it was beginning to get light when Levin reached them. The nurse
was not wet on the lower part of her dress, but Kitty was drenched
through, and her soaked clothes clung to her. Though the rain was
over, they still stood in the same position in which they had been
standing when the storm broke. Both stood bending over a perambulator
with a green umbrella.
"Alive? Unhurt? Thank God!" he said, splashing with his soaked
boots through the standing water and running up to them.
Kitty's rosy wet face was turned toward him, and she smiled
timidly under her shapeless sopping hat.
"Aren't you ashamed of yourself? I can't think how you can be so
reckless!" he said angrily to his wife.
"It wasn't my fault, really. We were just intending to go, when he
made such a to-do that we had to change him. We were just..." Kitty
began defending herself.
Mitia was unharmed, dry, and still fast asleep.
"Well, thank God! I don't know what I'm saying!"
They gathered up the baby's wet belongings; the nurse picked up
the baby and carried it. Levin walked beside his wife, and, penitent
for having been angry, he squeezed her hand when the nurse was not
During the whole of that day, in the extremely varied
conversations in which he took part, only as it were with the top
layer of his mind, in spite of the disappointment of not finding the
change he expected in himself, Levin had been all the while joyfully
conscious of the fullness of his heart.
After the rain it was too wet to go for a walk; besides, the storm
clouds still hung about the horizon, and gathered here and there,
black and thundery, on the rim of the sky. The whole party spent the
rest of the day in the house.
No more discussions sprang up; on the contrary, after dinner
everyone was in the most amiable frame of mind.
At first Katavassov amused the ladies by his original jokes, which
always pleased people on their first acquaintance with him. Then
Sergei Ivanovich induced him to tell them about the very interesting
observations he had made on the difference between the female and male
common houseflies in their characters and even physiognomies, and
their frame of life. Sergei Ivanovich, too, was in good spirits, and
at tea his brother drew him on to explain his views of the future of
the Eastern question, and he spoke so simply and so well, that
everyone listened eagerly.
Kitty was the only one who did not hear it all——she was summoned
to give Mitia his bath.
A few minutes after Kitty had left the room she sent for Levin to
come to the nursery.
Leaving his tea, and regretfully interrupting the interesting
conversation, and at the same time uneasily wondering why he had been
sent for, as this only happened on important occasions, Levin went to
Although he had been much interested by Sergei Ivanovich's views
of the new epoch in history that would be created by the emancipation
of forty millions of men of Slavonic race acting with Russia——a
conception quite new to him——and although he was disturbed by uneasy
wonder at being sent for by Kitty, as soon as he came out of the
drawing room and was alone, his mind reverted at once to the thoughts
of the morning. And all the theories of the significance of the Slav
element in the history of the world seemed to him so trivial compared
with what was passing in his own soul, that he instantly forgot it all
and dropped back into the same frame of mind that he had been in that
He did not, as he had done at other times recall the whole train
of thought——that was not necessary for him. He fell back at once into
the feeling which had guided him, which was connected with those
thoughts, and he found that feeling in his soul even stronger and more
definite than before. He did not, as he had had to do with previous
attempts to find comforting arguments, need to revive a whole chain of
thought to find the feeling. Now, on the contrary, the feeling of joy
and peace was keener than ever, and thought could not keep pace with
He walked across the terrace and looked at two stars that had come
out in the darkening sky, and suddenly he remembered. "Yes, looking at
the sky, I thought that the dome that I see is not a deception, and
then I did not think over something to the last——I shirked facing
something," he mused. "But whatever it was, there can be no disproving
it! I have but to think, and all will come clear!"
Just as he was going into the nursery he remembered what it was he
had shirked facing. It was that if the chief proof of the Divinity was
His revelation of what is right, how is it this revelation is confined
to the Christian Church alone? What relation to this revelation have
the beliefs of the Buddhists, Mohammedans, who preached and did good
It seemed to him that he had an answer to this question; but he
had not time to formulate it to himself before he went into the
Kitty was standing, with her sleeves tucked up, over the baby in
the bath. Hearing her husband's footstep, she turned toward him,
summoning him to her with her smile. With one hand she was supporting
the fat baby that lay floating and sprawling on its back, while with
the other she squeezed the sponge over him.
"Come, look, look!" she said, when her husband came up to her.
"Agathya Mikhailovna's right. He knows us!"
Mitia had on that day given unmistakable, incontestable signs of
recognizing all his friends.
As soon as Levin approached the bath, the experiment was tried,
and it was completely successful. The cook, sent for with this object,
bent over the baby. He frowned and shook his head disapprovingly.
Kitty bent down to him, he gave her a beaming smile, propped his
little hands on the sponge and chirruped, making such a queer little
contented sound with his lips that Kitty and the nurse were not alone
in their admiration——Levin, too, was surprised and delighted.
The baby was taken out of the bath, drenched with water, wrapped
in towels, dried, and, after a piercing scream, handed to his mother.
"Well, I am glad you are beginning to love him," said Kitty to her
husband, when she had settled herself comfortably in her usual place,
with the baby at her breast. "I am so glad! It had begun to distress
me. You said you had no feeling for him."
"No; did I say that? I only said I was disappointed."
"What! Disappointed in him?"
"Not disappointed in him, but in my own feeling; I had expected
more. I had expected a rush of new delightful emotion to come as a
surprise. And then instead of that——disgust, pity..."
She listened attentively, looking at him over the baby, while she
put back on her slender fingers the rings she had taken off while
giving Mitia his bath.
"And most of all, at there being far more apprehension and pity
than pleasure. Today, after that fright during the storm, I understand
how I love him."
Kitty's smile was radiant.
"Were you very much frightened?" she said. "So was I, too, but I
feel it more now that it's over. I'm going to look at the oak. How
charming Katavassov is! And what a happy day we've had altogether. And
you're so amiable with Sergei Ivanovich, when you care to be... Well,
go back to them. It's always so hot and steamy here after the
Going out of the nursery and being again alone, Levin went back at
once to the thought, in which there was something not clear.
Instead of going into the drawing room, where he heard voices, he
stopped on the terrace, and, leaning his elbows on the parapet, he
gazed up at the sky.
It was quite dark now, and in the south, where he was looking,
there were no clouds. The storm had drifted on to the opposite side of
the sky, and there were flashes of lightning and distant thunder from
that quarter. Levin listened to the monotonous drip from the linden
trees in the garden, and looked at the triangle of stars he knew so
well, and the Milky Way with its branches, that ran through its midst.
At each flash of lightning the Milky Way, and even the bright stars,
vanished, but as soon as the lightning died away, they reappeared in
their places as though some hand had flung them back with careful aim.
"Well, what is it that perplexes me?" Levin said to himself,
feeling beforehand that the solution of his difficulties was ready in
his soul, though he did not know it yet.
"Yes, the one unmistakable, incontestable manifestation of the
Divinity is the law of right and wrong, which has come into the world
by revelation, and which I feel within myself, and in the recognition
of which I not so much make myself but, willy-nilly, am made, one with
other men in one body of believers, which is called the Church. Well,
but the Jews, the Mohammedans, the Confucians, the Buddhists——what of
them?" he put to himself the question he had feared to face. "Can
these hundreds of millions of men be deprived of that highest blessing
without which life has no meaning?" He pondered a moment, but
immediately corrected himself. "But what am I questioning?" he said to
himself. "I am questioning the relation to Divinity of all the
different religions of all mankind. I am questioning the universal
manifestation of God to all the world with all these nebulae. What am
I about? To me individually, to my heart has been revealed a knowledge
beyond all doubt, and unattainable by reason, and here I am
obstinately trying to express that knowledge in reason and words.
"Don't I know that the stars don't move?" he asked himself, gazing
at the bright planet which had shifted its position up to the topmost
twig of a birch tree. "But looking at the movements of the stars, I
can't picture to myself the rotation of the earth, and I'm right in
saying that the stars move.
"And could the astronomers have understood and calculated
anything, if they had taken into account all the complicated and
varied motions of the earth?——All the marvelous conclusions they have
reached about the distances, weights, revolutions, and perturbations
of the heavenly bodies, are only founded on the apparent motions of
the heavenly bodies round the stationary earth, on that very motion I
see before me now, which has been so for millions of men during long
ages——has been and always will be alike, and can always be verified.
And just as the conclusions of the astronomers would have been vain
and uncertain if not founded on observations of the visible heavens,
in relation to a single meridian and a single horizon, so would my
conclusions be vain and uncertain if not founded on that conception of
right, which has been and will always be alike for all men, which has
been revealed to me by Christianity, and which can always be verified
in my soul. The question of other religions and their relations to
Divinity I have no right to decide, and no possibility of deciding."
"Oh, you haven't gone in then?" he heard Kitty's voice suddenly,
as she came by the same way to the drawing room. "What is it? You're
not worried about anything?" she said, looking intently at his face in
But she could not have seen his face if a flash of lightning had
not hidden the stars and revealed it. In that flash she saw his face
distinctly, and seeing him calm and happy, she smiled at him.
"She understands," he thought; "she knows what I'm thinking about.
Shall I tell her or not? Yes, I'll tell her." But at the moment he was
about to speak, she began speaking.
"Kostia! Do something for me," she said; "go into the corner room
and see if they've made it all ready for Sergei Ivanovich. I can't
very well. See if they've put the new washstand in it."
"Very well, I'll go directly," said Levin, standing up and kissing
"No, I'd better not speak of it," he thought, when she had gone in
before him. "It is a secret for me alone, of vital importance for me,
and not to be put into words.
"This new feeling has not changed me, has not made me happy and
enlightened all of a sudden, as I had dreamed, just like the feeling
for my child. There was no surprise in this either. Whether it is
faith or not——I don't know what it is——but this feeling has come just
as imperceptibly through suffering, and has taken firm root in my
"I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the
coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions
tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of
holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on
scolding her for my own fright and being remorseful for it; I shall
still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I
shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from
anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more
meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of
goodness, which I have the power to put into it."