Chapter 14

As he rode up to the house in the happiest frame of mind, Levin heard the bell ring at the side of the principal entrance of the house.

`Yes, that's someone from the railway station,' he thought, `just the time to be here from the Moscow train.... Who could it be? What if it's brother Nikolai? He did say: ``I may go to the waters, or I may come down to you.'' He felt dismayed and vexed for the first minute that his brother Nikolai's presence should come to his happy mood of spring. But he felt ashamed of the feeling, and at once he opened, as it were, the arms of his soul, and with a softened feeling of joy and expectation, he now hoped with all his heart that it was his brother. He spurred on his horse, and as he rode out from behind the acacias, he saw a hired troika from the railway station, and a gentleman in a fur coat. It was not his brother. `Oh, if it were only some pleasant person one could talk to a little!' he thought.

`Ah,' cried Levin joyfully, flinging up both his hands. `Here's a delightful visitor! Ah, how glad I am to see you!' he shouted, recognizing Stepan Arkadyevich.

`I shall find out for certain whether she's married, or when she's going to be married,' he thought.

And on that delicious spring day he felt that the thought of her did not hurt him at all.

`Didn't expect me, did you?' said Stepan Arkadyevich, getting out of the sleigh, splashed with mud on the bridge of his nose, on his cheek, and on his eyebrows, but radiant with health and good spirits. `I've come primarily to see you,' he said, embracing and kissing him, `secondly, to have some stand shooting, and thirdly, to sell the forest at Ergushovo.'

`Delightful! What a spring we're having! How ever did you get along in a sleigh?'

`In a wagon it would have been worse still, Konstantin Dmitrievich,' answered the driver, who knew him.

`Well, I'm very, very glad to see you,' said Levin, with a genuine smile of childlike delight.

Levin led his friend to the guest room, where Stepan Arkadyevich's things were also carried - a bag, a gun in a case, a satchel for cigars. Leaving him there to wash and change his clothes, Levin went off to the countinghouse to speak about the plowing and the clover. Agathya Mikhailovna, always very anxious for the credit of the house, met him in the hall with inquiries about dinner.

`Do just as you like, only let it be as soon as possible,' he said, and went to the bailiff.

When he came back, Stepan Arkadyevich, washed and combed, came out of his room with a beaming smile, and they went upstairs together.

`Well, I am glad I managed to get away to you! Now I shall understand what the mysterious business is that you are always absorbed in here. No, really, I envy you. What a house, how splendid it all is! So bright, so cheerful!' said Stepan Arkadyevich, forgetting that it was not always spring and fine weather as on this day. `And your old nurse is simply charming! A pretty maid in an apron might be even more agreeable, perhaps; but for your severe monastic style it does very well.'

Stepan Arkadyevich imparted to him many interesting bits of news; especially interesting to Levin was the news that his brother, Sergei Ivanovich, was intending to spend the summer with him in the country.

Not one word did Stepan Arkadyevich say in reference to Kitty and the Shcherbatskys; he merely gave him greetings from his wife. Levin was grateful to him for his delicacy, and rejoiced exceedingly over his guest. As always happened with him during his solitude, a mass of ideas and feelings had been accumulating within him, which he could not communicate to those about him. And now he poured out upon Stepan Arkadyevich his poetic joy over the spring, and his failures and plans for the land, and his thoughts and criticisms on the books he had been reading, and the idea of his own book, the basis of which really was, though he was unaware of it himself, a criticism of all the old books on agriculture.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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