Chapter 11

Levin emptied his glass, and they were silent for a while.

`There's one other thing I ought to tell you. Do you know Vronsky?' Stepan Arkadyevich asked Levin.

`No, I don't. Why do you ask?'

`Give us another bottle,' Stepan Arkadyevich directed the Tatar, who was filling up their glasses and fidgeting round them just when he was least wanted.

`Why, you ought to know Vronsky because he's one of your rivals.'

`Who's Vronsky?' said Levin, and his face was suddenly transformed from the look of childlike ecstasy which Oblonsky had just been admiring to an angry and unpleasant expression.

`Vronsky is one of the sons of Count Kirill Ivanovich Vronsky, and one of the finest specimens of the gilded youth of Peterburg. I made his acquaintance in Tver, when I was there on official business, and he came there for the levy of recruits. Fearfully rich, handsome, great connections, an aide-de-camp, and with all that a very fine good-natured fellow. But he's more than simply a good-natured fellow, as I've found out here - he's a cultured man, too, and very intelligent; he's a man who'll make his mark.'

Levin scowled and kept silent.

`Well, he turned up here soon after you'd gone, and, as I can see, he's over head and ears in love with Kitty, and you know that her mother...'

`Excuse me, but I know nothing,' said Levin, frowning gloomily. And immediately he recalled his brother Nikolai, and how vile he was to have been able to forget him.

`You wait a bit - wait a bit,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, smiling and touching his hand. `I've told you what I know, and I repeat that in this delicate and tender matter, as far as one can conjecture, I believe the chances are in your favor.'

Levin dropped back in his chair; his face was pale.

`But I would advise you to settle the thing as soon as possible,' pursued Oblonsky, filling up his glass.

`No, thanks, I can't drink any more,' said Levin, pushing away his glass. `I shall get drunk.... Come, tell me how are you getting on?' he went on, obviously anxious to change the conversation.

`One word more: in any case I advise you to settle the question soon. Tonight I don't advise you to speak,' said Stepan Arkadyevich. `Go round tomorrow morning, make a proposal in classic form, and God bless you....'

`Oh, do you still think of coming to me for some shooting? Come next spring, do,' said Levin.

Now his whole soul was full of remorse that he had begun this conversation with Stepan Arkadyevich. His peculiar feeling was profaned by talk of the rivalry of some Peterburg officer, of the suppositions and the counsels of Stepan Arkadyevich.

Stepan Arkadyevich smiled. He knew what was passing in Levin's soul.

`I'll come some day,' he said. `Yes, my dear, women - they're the pivot everything turns upon. Things are in a bad way with me, very bad. And it's all through women. Tell me frankly, now,' he pursued, picking up a cigar and keeping one hand on his glass; `give me your advice.'

`Why, what is it?'

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