Chapter 8

Getting up from the table, Levin walked with Gaghin through the lofty rooms to the billiard room, feeling his arms swing as he walked with a peculiar lightness and ease. As he crossed the big room, he came upon his father-in-law.

`Well, how do you like our Temple of Indolence?' said the Prince, taking his arm. `Come along, come along!'

`Yes, I wanted to walk about and look at everything. It's interesting.'

`Yes, it's interesting for you. But its interest for me is quite different. You look at such little ancients, now,' he said, pointing to a club member with bent back and pendulous lip, shuffling toward them in his soft boots, `and imagine that they were shlupiks like that from their birth up.'


`I see you don't know that name. That's our club designation. You know the game of rolling eggs: when one's rolled a long while it becomes a shlupik. So it is with us; one goes on coming and coming to the club, and ends by becoming a shlupik. Ah, you laugh! but we look out, for fear of dropping into it ourselves. You know Prince Chechensky?' inquired the Prince; and Levin saw by his face that he was just going to relate something funny.

`No, I don't know him.'

`You don't say so! Well, Prince Chechensky is a well-known figure. No matter, though. He's always playing billiards here. Only three years ago he was not a shlupik, and kept up his spirits, and even used to call other people shlupiks. But one day he turns up, and our porter... You know Vassilii? Why, that fat one; he's famous for his bons mots. And so Prince Chechensky asks him, ``Come, Vassilii who's here? Any shlupiks here yet?' And he says: ``You're the third.' Yes, my dear boy, that he did!'

Talking and greeting the friends they met, Levin and the Prince walked through all the rooms: the great room where tables had already been set, and the usual partners were playing for small stakes; the divan room, where they were playing chess, and Sergei Ivanovich was sitting talking to somebody; the billiard room, where, about the sofa in a recess, there was a lively party drinking champagne - Gaghin was one of them. They peeped into the `infernal regions,' where a good many men were crowding round one table, at which Iashvin was sitting. Trying not to make a noise, they walked into the dark reading room, where under the shaded lamps there sat a young man with a wrathful countenance, turning over one journal after another, and a bald general buried in a book. They went, too, into what the Prince called the intellectual room, where three gentlemen were engaged in a heated discussion of the latest political news.

`Prince, please come, we're ready,' said one of his card party, who had come to look for him, and the Prince went off. Levin sat down and listened, but recalling all the conversation of the morning he felt all of a sudden fearfully bored. He got up hurriedly, and went to look for Oblonsky and Turovtsin, with whom it had been so pleasant.

Turovtsin was one of the circle drinking in the billiard room, and Stepan Arkadyevich was talking with Vronsky near the door at the farther corner of the room.

`It's not that she's dull; but this undefined, this unsettled position,' Levin caught, and he was going to hurry away, but Stepan Arkadyevich called him.

`Levin!' said Stepan Arkadyevich; and Levin noticed that his eyes were not full of tears exactly, but moist, which always happened when he had been drinking, or when he was touched. Today it was due to both causes. `Levin, don't go,' he said, and he warmly squeezed his arm above the elbow, obviously not at all wishing to let him go.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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