Chapter 25

`So you see,' pursued Nikolai Levin, painfully wrinkling his forehead and twitching.

It was obviously difficult for him to think of what to say and do.

`Here, do you see?... He pointed to some sort of short iron bars, fastened together with twine, lying in a corner of the room. `Do you see that? That's the beginning of a new enterprise we're going into. This enterprise will be an industrial association....'

Konstantin scarcely heard him. He looked into his sickly, consumptive face, and he was more and more sorry for him, and he could not force himself to listen to what his brother was telling him about the association. He saw that this association was a mere anchor to save him from self-contempt. Nikolai Levin went on talking:

`You know that capital oppresses the worker. Our workers, the mouzhiks, bear all the burden of labor, and are so placed that, no matter how much they work, they can't escape from their position of beasts of burden. All the profits of labor, on which they might improve their position, and gain leisure for themselves, and after that education - all the surplus values, are taken from them by the capitalists. And society is so constituted that the harder they work, the greater the profit of the merchants and landowners, while they stay beasts of burden to the end. And that state of things must be changed,' he finished up, and looked questioningly at his brother.

`Yes, of course,' said Konstantin, looking at the patch of red that had come out on his brother's projecting cheekbones.

`And so we're founding a locksmith's association, where all the production and profit, and the chief instruments of production - everything - will be in common.'

`Where is the association to be?' asked Konstantin Levin.

`In the village of Vozdrem, government of Kazan.'

`But why in a village? In the villages, I think, there is plenty of work as it is. Why a locksmith's association in a village?'

`Why? Because the peasants are just as much slaves as they ever were, and that's why you and Sergei Ivanovich don't like people to try and get them out of their slavery,' said Nikolai Levin, exasperated by the objection.

Konstantin Levin sighed, looking meanwhile about the cheerless and dirty room. This sigh seemed to exasperate Nikolai still more.

`I know Sergei Ivanovich's, and your, aristocratic views. I know that he applies all the power of his intellect to justify existing evils.'

`I say, why do you talk of Sergei Ivanovich?' Levin let drop, smiling.

`Sergei Ivanovich? I'll tell you why!' Nikolai Levin shrieked suddenly at the name of Sergei Ivanovich. `I'll tell you why... But what's the use of talking? There's only one thing... What did you come to me for? You look down on all this; very well, then; but go away, in God's name - go away!' he shrieked, getting up from his chair. `Go away - go away!'

`I don't look down on it at all,' said Konstantin Levin timidly. `I don't even dispute it.'

At that instant Marya Nikolaevna came back. Nikolai Levin looked round angrily at her. She went quickly to him, and whispered something.

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