`Impossible, as it seems to me.... For the four thousand square verstas of our district, what with our undersnow waters, and the storms, and the work in the fields, I don't see how it is possible to provide medical aid all over. And besides, I don't believe in medicine.'
`Oh, well, that's unfair.... I can quote to you thousands of instances.... But the schools, at least?'
`Why have schools?'
`What do you mean? Can there be two opinions of the advantage of education? If it's a good thing for you, it's a good thing for everyone.'
Konstantin Levin felt himself morally pinned against a wall, and so he became heated, and unconsciously blurted out the chief cause of his indifference to public business.
`Perhaps it may all be very good; but why should I worry myself about establishing dispensaries which I shall never make use of, and schools to which I shall never send my children, to which even the peasants don't want to send their children, and to which I've no very firm faith that they ought to send them?' said he.
Sergei Ivanovich was for a minute surprised at this unexpected view of the subject; but he promptly made a new plan of attack.
He was silent for a little, drew out a hook, threw it in again, and turned to his brother smiling.
`Come, now.... In the first place, the dispensary is needed. We ourselves sent for the district doctor for Agathya Mikhailovna.'
`Oh, well, but I fancy her wrist will never be straight again.'
`That remains to be proved.... Next, the peasant who can read and write is as a workman of more use and value to you.'
`No; you can ask anyone you like,' Konstantin Levin answered with decision, `the man that can read and write is much inferior as a workman. And mending the highroads is an impossibility; and as soon as they put up bridges they're stolen.'
`Still, that's not the point,' said Sergei Ivanovich, frowning. He disliked contradiction, and still more, arguments that were continually skipping from one thing to another, introducing new and disconnected points, so that there was no knowing to which to reply. `Let me say. Do you admit that education is a benefit for the people?'
`Yes, I admit it,' said Levin without thinking, and he was conscious immediately that he had said what he did not think. He felt that if he admitted that, it would be proved that he had been talking meaningless rubbish. How it would be proved he could not tell, but he knew that this would inevitably be logically proved to him, and he awaited the proofs.
The argument turned out to be far simpler than Konstantin Levin had expected.
`If you admit that it is a benefit,' said Sergei Ivanovich, `then, as an honest man, you cannot help caring about it and sympathizing with the movement, and so wishing to work for it.'
`But I still do not admit this movement to be good,' said Konstantin Levin, reddening.
`What! But you just said now...'
`That's to say, I don't admit it's being either good or possible.'
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