Chapter 2

On the day of the wedding, according to the Russian custom (the Princess and Darya Alexandrovna insisted on strictly keeping all the customs), Levin did not see his betrothed, and dined at his hotel with three bachelor friends, casually brought together at his rooms. These were Sergei Ivanovich, Katavassov, a university friend, now professor of natural science, whom Levin had met in the street and insisted on taking home with him, and Chirikov, his best man, a Moscow justice of the peace, Levin's companion in his bear hunts. The dinner was a very merry one: Sergei Ivanovich was in his happiest mood, and was much amused by Katavassov's originality. Katavassov, feeling his originality was appreciated and understood, made the most of it. Chirikov always gave a lively and good-humored support to conversation of any sort.

`See, now,' said Katavassov, drawling his words from a habit acquired in the lecture room, `what a capable fellow was our friend Konstantin Dmitrievich. I'm speaking of absent company - he doesn't exist for us now. At the time he left the university he was fond of science, took an interest in humanity; now one-half of his abilities is devoted to deceiving himself, and the other to justifying the deceit.'

`A more determined enemy of matrimony than you I never saw,' said Sergei Ivanovich.

`Oh, no, I'm not an enemy of matrimony. I'm in favor of division of labor. People who can do nothing else ought to rear people, while the rest work for their happiness and enlightenment. That's how I look at it. To muddle up two trades there are too many amateurs; I'm not one of their number.'

`How happy I shall be when I hear that you're in love!' said Levin. `Please invite me to the wedding.'

`I'm in love now.'

`Yes, with a cuttlefish! You know,' Levin turned to his brother, `Mikhail Semionovich is writing a work on the digestive organs of the...'

`Now, make a muddle of it! It doesn't matter what about. And the fact is, I certainly do love cuttlefish.'

`But that's no hindrance to your loving your wife.'

`The cuttlefish is no hindrance. The wife is the hindrance.'

`Why so?'

`Oh, you'll see! You care about farming, hunting - well, you'll see!...'

`Arkhip was here today; he said there were no end of elk in Prudnoe, and two bears,' said Chirikov.

`Well, you must go and get them without me.'

`Ah, that's the truth,' said Sergei Ivanovich. `And you may say good-by to bear hunting for the future - your wife won't allow it!'

Levin smiled. The picture of his wife not letting him go was so pleasant that he was ready to renounce forever the delights of looking upon bears.

`Still, it's a pity they should get those two bears without you. Do you remember last time at Khapilovo? And now it would be a delightful hunt!' said Chirikov.

Levin had not the heart to disillusion him of the notion that there could be something delightful apart from her, and so said nothing.

`There's some sense in this custom of saying good-by to bachelor life,' said Sergei Ivanovich. `However happy you may be, you must regret your freedom.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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