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Anna Karenina 142


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Anna Karenina

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at first, but you get into it. I dare say I shall manage to keep it up..." "Really! what an idea! But tell me, how do the peasants look at it? I suppose they laugh in their sleeves at their masters being such a queer fish?" "No, I dont think so; but its so delightful, and at the same time such hard work, that one has no time to think about it." "But how will you do about dining with them? To send you a bottle of Lafitte and roast turkey out there would be a little awkward." "No, Ill simply come home at the time of their noonday rest." Next morning Konstantin Levin got up earlier than usual, but he was detained giving directions on the farm, and when he reached the mowing grass the mowers were already at their second row. From the uplands he could get a view of the shaded cut part of the meadow below, with its grayish ridges of cut grass, and the black heaps of coats, taken off by the mowers at the place from which they had started cutting. Gradually, as he rode towards the meadow, the peasants came into sight, some in coats, some in their shirts mowing, one behind another in a long string, swinging their scythes differently. He counted forty-two of them. They were mowing slowly over the uneven, low-lying parts of the meadow, where there had been an old dam. Levin recognized some of his own men. Here was old Yermil in a very long white smock, bending forward to swing a scythe; there was a young fellow, Vaska, who had been a coachman of Levins, taking every row with a wide sweep. Here, too, was Tit, Levins preceptor in the art of mowing, a thin little peasant. He was in front of all, and cut his wide row without bending, as though playing with the scythe. Levin got off his mare, and fastening her up by the roadside went to meet Tit, who took a second scythe out of a bush and gave it to him. "Its ready, sir; its like a razor, cuts of itself," said Tit, taking off his cap with a smile and giving him the scythe. Levin took the scythe, and began trying it. As they finished their rows, the mowers, hot and good-humored, came out into the road one after another, and, laughing a little, greeted the master. They all stared at him, but no one made any remark, till a tall old man, with a wrinkled, beardless face, wearing a short sheepskin jacket, came out into the road and accosted him. "Lookee now, master, once take hold of the rope theres no letting it go!" he said, and Levin heard smothered laughter among the mowers. "Ill try not to let it go," he said, taking his stand behind Tit, and waiting for the time to begin. "Mindee," repeated the old man. Tit made room, and Levin started behind him. The grass was short close to the road, and Levin, who had not done any mowing for a long while, and was disconcerted by the eyes fastened upon him, cut badly for the first moments, though he swung his scythe vigorously. Behind him he heard voices: "Its not set right; handles too high; see how he has to stoop to it," said one. "Press more on the heel," said another. "Never mind, hell get on all right," the old man resumed. "Hes made a start.... You swing it too wide, youll tire yourself out.... The master, sure, does his best for himself! But see the grass missed out! For such work us fellows would catch it!" The grass became softer, and Levin, listening without answering, followed Tit, trying to do the best he could. They moved a hundred paces. Tit kept moving on, without stopping, not showing the slightest weariness, but Levin was already beginning to be afraid he would not be able to keep it up: he was so tired. He felt as he swung his scythe that he was at the very end of his strength, and was making up his mind to ask Tit to stop. But at that very moment Tit stopped of his own accord, and stooping down picked up some grass, rubbed his scythe, and began whetting it. Levin straightened himself, and drawing a deep breath looked round. Behind him came a peasant, and he too was evidently tired, for he stopped at once without waiting to mow up

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