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Anna Karenina 11

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

especially at the hand of the elegant Grinevitch, which had such long white fingers, such long yellow filbert-shaped nails, and such huge shining studs on the shirt-cuff, that apparently they absorbed all his attention, and allowed him no freedom of thought. Oblonsky noticed this at once, and smiled. "Ah, to be sure, let me introduce you," he said. "My colleagues: Philip Ivanitch Nikitin, Mihail Stanislavitch Grinevitch"--and turning to Levin--"a district councilor, a modern district councilman, a gymnast who lifts thirteen stone with one hand, a cattle-breeder and sportsman, and my friend, Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin, the brother of Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev." "Delighted," said the veteran. "I have the honor of knowing your brother, Sergey Ivanovitch," said Grinevitch, holding out his slender hand with its long nails. Levin frowned, shook hands coldly, and at once turned to Oblonsky. Though he had a great respect for his half-brother, an author well known to all Russia, he could not endure it when people treated him not as Konstantin Levin, but as the brother of the celebrated Koznishev. "No, I am no longer a district councilor. I have quarreled with them all, and dont go to the meetings any more," he said, turning to Oblonsky. "Youve been quick about it!" said Oblonsky with a smile. "But how? why?" "Its a long story. I will tell you some time," said Levin, but he began telling him at once. "Well, to put it shortly, I was convinced that nothing was really done by the district councils, or ever could be," he began, as though some one had just insulted him. "On one side its a plaything; they play at being a parliament, and Im neither young enough nor old enough to find amusement in playthings; and on the other side" (he stammered) "its a means for the coterie of the district to make money. Formerly they had wardships, courts of justice, now they have the district council--not in the form of bribes, but in the form of unearned salary," he said, as hotly as though someone of those present had opposed his opinion. "Aha! Youre in a new phase again, I see--a conservative," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "However, we can go into that later." "Yes, later. But I wanted to see you," said Levin, looking with hatred at Grinevitchs hand. Stepan Arkadyevitch gave a scarcely perceptible smile. "How was it you used to say you would never wear European dress again?" he said, scanning his new suit, obviously cut by a French tailor. "Ah! I see: a new phase." Levin suddenly blushed, not as grown men blush, slightly, without being themselves aware of it, but as boys blush, feeling that they are ridiculous through their shyness, and consequently ashamed of it and blushing still more, almost to the point of tears. And it was so strange to see this sensible, manly face in such a childish plight, that Oblonsky left off looking at him. "Oh, where shall we meet? You know I want very much to talk to you," said Levin. Oblonsky seemed to ponder. "Ill tell you what: lets go to Gurins to lunch, and there we can talk. I am free till three." "No," answered Levin, after an instants thought, "I have got to go on somewhere else." "All right, then, lets dine together." "Dine together? But I have nothing very particular, only a few words to say, and a question I want to ask you, and we can have a talk afterwards." "Well, say the few words, then, at once, and well gossip after dinner." "Well, its this," said Levin; "but its of no importance, though." His face all at once took an expression of anger from the effort he was making to surmount his shyness. "What are the Shtcherbatskys doing? Everything as it used to be?" he said. Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had long known that Levin was in love with his sister-in-law, Kitty, gave a hardly perceptible smile, and his eyes sparkled merrily. "You said a few words, but I cant answer in a few words, because.... Excuse me a minute..." A secretary came in, with respectful familiarity and the modest consciousness, characteristic of every secretary, of superiority to his chief in the knowledge of their business; he went up to Oblonsky with some papers, and began, under pretense of asking a question, to explain some objection. Stepan Arkadyevitch, without hearing him out, laid his hand genially on the secretarys sleeve. "No, you do as I told you," he said, softening his words with a smile, and with a brief explanation of his view of the matter he turned away from the

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