When they reached the second marsh, which was fairly large, and would inevitably take some time to shoot over, Levin tried to persuade them to pass it by. But Veslovsky again talked him over. Again, as the marsh was narrow, Levin, like a good host, remained with the carriages.
Krak made straight for hummocks; Vassenka Veslovsky was the first to run after the dog. Before Stepan Arkadyevich had time to come up, a double snipe flew out. Veslovsky missed it and it flew into an unmown meadow. This double snipe was left for Veslovsky to follow up. Krak found it again and pointed, and Veslovsky shot it and went back to the carriages.
`Now you go and I'll stay with the horses,' he said.
Levin had begun to feel the pangs of a sportsman's envy. He handed the reins to Veslovsky and walked into the marsh.
Laska, who had been plaintively whining and fretting against the injustice of her treatment, flew straight ahead to an unfailing place, covered with mossy hummocks, that Levin knew well, and that Krak had not yet come upon.
`Why don't you stop her?' shouted Stepan Arkadyevich.
`She won't scare them,' answered Levin, sympathizing with his bitch's pleasure and hurrying after her.
As she came nearer and nearer to the familiar hummocks there was more and more earnestness in Laska's exploration. A little marsh bird did not divert her attention for more than an instant. She made one circuit round the hummocks, was beginning a second, and suddenly quivered with excitement and stood stock-still.
`Come, come, Stiva!' shouted Levin, feeling his heart beginning to beat more violently; and all of a sudden, as though some sort of shutter had been drawn back from his straining ears, all sounds, confused but loud, began to beat on his hearing, losing all sense of distance. He heard the steps of Stepan Arkadyevich, mistaking them for the tramp of the horses in the distance; he heard the brittle sound of the tussock which came off with its roots when he had trodden on a hummock, and he took this sound for the flight of a double snipe. He heard too, not far behind him, a splashing in the water, which he could not explain to himself.
Picking his steps, he moved up to the dog.
Not a double but a jacksnipe flew up from beside the dog. Levin had lifted his gun, but at the very instant when he was taking aim, the sound of splashing grew louder, came closer, and was joined with the sound of Veslovsky's voice, shouting something with strange loudness. Levin saw he had his gun pointed behind the snipe, but still he fired.
When he had made sure he had missed, Levin looked round and saw the horses and the droshky not on the road but in the marsh.
Veslovsky, eager to see the shooting, had driven into the marsh, and got the horses stuck in the mud.
`Damn the fellow!' Levin said to himself, as he went back to the carriage that had sunk in the mire. `What did you drive in for?' he said to him dryly, and, calling the coachman he began pulling the horses out.
Levin was vexed both at being hindered from shooting and at his horses getting stuck in the mud, and still more at the fact that neither Stepan Arkadyevich nor Veslovsky helped him and the coachman to unharness the horses and get them out, since neither of them had the slightest notion of harnessing. Without answering a syllable to Vassenka's protestations that it had been quite dry there, Levin worked
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