Stepan Arkadyevich, always charming, understanding everything at the slightest reference, was particularly charming on this visit, and Levin noticed in him a special tenderness, as it were, and a new tone of respect that flattered him.
The efforts of Agathya Mikhailovna and the cook to have the dinner particularly good, only ended in the two famished friends attacking the preliminary course, eating a great deal of bread and butter, salt goose and salted mushrooms, and in Levin's finally ordering the soup to be served without the accompaniment of little patties, with which the cook had particularly meant to impress their visitor. But though Stepan Arkadyevich was accustomed to very different dinners, he thought everything excellent: the herb brandy, and the bread, and the butter, and, above all, the salt goose and the mushrooms, and the nettle soup, and the chicken in white sauce, and the white Crimean wine - everything was excellent and marvelous.
`Splendid, splendid!' he said, lighting a fat cigar after the roast. `I feel as if, coming to you, I had landed on a peaceful shore after the noise and jolting of a steamer. And so you maintain that the laborer himself is an element to be studied, and to regulate the choice of methods in agriculture. Of course, I'm an ignorant outsider; but I should fancy theory and its application will have its influence on the laborer too.'
`Yes, but wait a bit. I'm not talking of political economy - I'm talking of the science of agriculture. It ought to be like the natural sciences, and to observe given phenomena and the laborer in his economic, ethnographical...'
At that instant Agathya Mikhailovna came in with jam.
`Oh, Agathya Fiodorovna,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, kissing the tips of his plump fingers, `what salt goose, what herb brandy!... What do you think, isn't it time to start, Kostia?' he added.
Levin looked out of the window at the sun sinking behind the bare treetops of the forest.
`Yes, it's time,' he said. `Kouzma, get ready the wide droshky,' and he ran downstairs.
Stepan Arkadyevich, going down, carefully took the canvas cover off his varnished gun case with his own hands, and opening it, began to get ready his expensive, new-fashioned gun. Kouzma, who already scented a big tip, never left Stepan Arkadyevich's side, and put on him both his stockings and boots, a task which Stepan Arkadyevich readily left to him.
`Kostia, give orders that if the merchant Riabinin comes - I told him to come today - he's to be shown in and asked to wait for me...'
`Why, do you mean to say you're selling the forest to Riabinin?'
`Yes. Do you know him?'
`To be sure I do. I have had to do business with him, ``positively and definitively.''
Stepan Arkadyevich laughed. ``Positively and definitively'' were the merchant's favorite words.
`Yes, it's wonderfully funny the way he talks. She knows where her master's going!' he added, patting Laska, who hung about Levin, whining and licking his hands, his boots, and his gun.
The droshky was already at the steps when they went out.
`I told them to bring the droshky round, though it's not far to go; or would you rather walk?'
`No, we'd better drive,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, getting into the droshky. He sat down, tucked the tiger- striped rug round him, and lighted a cigar. `How is it you don't smoke? A cigar is a sort of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign of pleasure. Come, this is life! How splendid it is! This is how I should like to live!'