unnecessary before.' He got up to go to his writing table, and Laska, lying at his feet, got up too, stretching and looking at him as though to inquire where to go. But he had not time to write it down, for the overseers had come for receiving orders, and Levin went out into the hall to meet them.
After giving orders, that is to say, directions about the labors of the next day, and seeing all the peasants who had business with him, Levin went back to his study and sat down to work. Laska lay under the table; Agathya Mikhailovna settled herself in her place with her stocking.
After writing for a little while, Levin suddenly thought with exceptional vividness of Kitty, her refusal, and their last meeting. He got up and began walking about the room.
`What's the use of being downhearted?' said Agathya Mikhailovna. `Come, why do you stay on at home? You ought to go to some warm springs, especially now that you're ready for the journey.'
`Well, I am going away the day after tomorrow, Agathya Mikhailovna; I must finish my work.'
`There, there, your work, you say! As if you hadn't done enough for the peasants! Why, as 'tis, they're saying, ``Your master will be getting some honor from the Czar for it.' Indeed, 'tis a strange thing: why need you worry about the peasants?'
`I'm not worrying about them; I'm doing it for my own good.'
Agathya Mikhailovna knew every detail of Levin's plans for his land. Levin often put his views before her in all their complexity, and not uncommonly he argued with her and did not agree with her comments. But on this occasion she entirely misinterpreted what he had said.
`Of one's soul's salvation we all know and must think before all else,' she said with a sigh. `Parfion Denissich now, for all he was no scholar, died a death whose like may God grant to every one of us,' she said, referring to a servant who had died recently. `Took the sacrament and all.'
`That's not what I mean,' said he. `I mean that I'm acting for my own advantage. It's all the better for me if the peasants do their work better.'
`Well, whatever you do, if he's a lazy good-for-naught, everything'll be at sixes and sevens. If he has a conscience, he'll work, and if not, there's no doing anything.'
`Oh, come, you say yourself Ivan has begun looking after the cattle better.'
`All I say is,' answered Agathya Mikhailovna, evidently not speaking at random, but in strict sequence of ideas, `that you ought to get married - that's what I say.'
Agathya Mikhailovna's allusion to the very subject he had only just been thinking about hurt and stung him. Levin scowled, and without answering her, he sat down again to his work, repeating to himself all that he had been thinking of the real significance of that work. Only at intervals he listened in the stillness to the click of Agathya Mikhailovna's needles, and, recollecting what he did not want to remember, he would frown again.
At nine o'clock they heard the bell and the faint vibration of a carriage over the mud.
`Well, here's visitors come to us, and you won't be dull,' said Agathya Mikhailovna, getting up and going to the door. But Levin overtook her. His work was not going well now, and he was glad of a visitor, whoever it might be.
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