`Nikolai Ivanich was struck,' she said meaning Sviiazhsky, `at the progress the new building had made since he was here last; but I am there every day, and every day I wonder at the rate at which it grows.'

`It's first-rate working with His Excellency,' said the architect with a smile (he was respectful and composed, though with a sense of his own dignity). `It's a very different matter to have to do with the district authorities. Where one would have to write out sheaves of papers, here I call upon the Count, and in three words we settle the business.'

`The American way of doing business,' said Sviiazhsky, with a smile.

`Yes, there they build in a rational fashion....'

The conversation passed to the misuse of political power in the United States, but Anna quickly brought it round to another topic, so as to draw the steward into talk.

`Have you ever seen a reaping machine?' she said, addressing Darya Alexandrovna. `We had just ridden over to look at one when we met. It's the first time I ever saw one.'

`How do they work?' asked Dolly.

`Exactly like scissors. A plank and a lot of little scissors. Like this.'

Anna took a knife and fork in her beautiful white hands, covered with rings, and began showing how the machine worked. It was clear that she saw nothing would be understood from her explanation; but aware that her talk was pleasant, and her hands beautiful, she went on explaining.

`More like little penknives,' Veslovsky said playfully, never taking his eyes off her.

Anna gave a just perceptible smile, but made no answer. `Isn't it true, Karl Fedorich, that it's just like scissors?' she said to the steward.

`Oh, ja,' answered the German. `Es ist ein ganz einfaches Ding,' and he began to explain the construction of the machine.

`It's a pity it doesn't bind too. I saw one at the Vienna exhibition, which binds with a wire,' said Sviiazhsky. `They would be more profitable in use.'

`Es kommt drauf an... Der Preis vom Draht muss ausgerechnet werden.' And the German, roused from his taciturnity, turned to Vronsky. `Das lässt sich ausrechnen, Erlaucht.' The German was just feeling in the pocket where were his pencil and the notebook he always wrote in, but recollecting that he was at a dinner, and observing Vronsky's chilly glance, he checked himself. `Zu compliziert, macht zu viel pains,' he concluded.

`Wünscht man gains, so hat man auch pains,' said Vassenka Veslovsky, bantering the German. `J'adore l'allemand,' he addressed Anna again with the same smile.

`Cessez,' she said with playful severity.

`We expected to find you in the fields, Vassilii Semionich,' she said to the doctor, a sickly-looking man; `have you been there?'

`I went there, but I evaporated,' the doctor answered with gloomy jocoseness.

`Then you've taken a good constitutional?'


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