Chapter 11

When Levin and Stepan Arkadyevich reached the peasant's hut where Levin always used to stay, Veslovsky was already there. He was sitting in the middle of the hut, clinging with both hands to the bench from which he was being pulled by a soldier, the brother of the peasant's wife, who was helping him off with his miry boots. Veslovsky was laughing his infectious, good-humored laugh.

`I've only just come. Ils ont été charmants. Just fancy they gave me drink, and fed me! Such bread - it was exquisite! Délicieux! And the vodka - I never tasted any better. And they would not take a penny for anything. And they kept saying: ``Excuse our homely ways.''

`What should they take anything for? They were entertaining you, to be sure. Do you suppose they keep vodka for sale?' said the soldier, succeeding at last in pulling the soaked boot off, together with the blackened stocking.

In spite of the dirtiness of the hut, which was all muddied by their boots and the filthy dogs licking themselves clean, and the smells of the marsh and the powder that filled the room, and the absence of knives and forks, the party drank their tea and ate their supper with a relish only known to sportsmen. Washed and clean, they went into a hay barn swept ready for them, where the coachmen had been making up beds for the gentlemen.

Though it was dusk, not one of them wanted to go to sleep.

After wavering among reminiscences and anecdotes of guns, of dogs, and of former shooting parties, the conversation rested on a topic that interested all of them. After Vassenka had several times over expressed his appreciation of this delightful sleeping place among the fragrant hay, this delightful broken telega (he supposed it to be broken because the shafts had been taken out), of the good nature of the peasants who had treated him to vodka, of the dogs who lay at the feet of their respective masters, Oblonsky began telling them of a delightful shooting party at Malthus's where he had stayed the previous summer. Malthus was a well-known capitalist, who had made his money by speculation in railway shares. Stepan Arkadyevich described what snipe moors this Malthus had taken on lease in the Tver province, and how they were preserved, and of the carriages and dogcarts in which the shooting party had been driven, and the luncheon pavilion that had been rigged up at the marsh.

`I don't understand you,' said Levin, sitting up in the hay; `how is it such people don't disgust you? I can understand a lunch with Lafitte is all very pleasant, but don't you dislike just that very sumptuousness? All these people, just like our tax farmers in the old days, get their money in a way that gains them the contempt of everyone. They don't care for their contempt, and then they use their dishonest gains to buy off the contempt they have deserved.'

`Perfectly true!' chimed in Vassenka Veslovsky. `Perfectly! Oblonsky, of course, goes out of bonhomie, but other people say: ``Well, Oblonsky stays with them.''

`Not a bit of it.' Levin could hear that Oblonsky was smiling as he spoke. `I simply don't consider him more dishonest than any other wealthy merchant or nobleman. They've all made their money alike - by their work and their intelligence.'

`Oh, by what work? Do you call it work to get hold of concessions and speculate with them?'

`Of course it's work. Work in this sense, that if it were not for him and others like him, there would have been no railways.'

`But that's not work, like the work of a peasant, or in a learned profession.'

`Granted, but it's work in the sense that his activity produces a result - the railways. But of course you think the railways useless.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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