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Anna Karenina 188


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it into two. Under the holy pictures stood a table painted in patterns, a bench, and two chairs. Near the entrance was a dresser full of crockery. The shutters were closed, there were few flies, and it was so clean that Levin was anxious that Laska, who had been running along the road and bathing in puddles, should not muddy the floor, and ordered her to a place in the corner by the door. After looking round the parlor, Levin went out in the back yard. The good-looking young woman in clogs, swinging the empty pails on the yoke, ran on before him to the well for water. "Look sharp, my girl!" the old man shouted after her, good-humoredly, and he went up to Levin. "Well, sir, are you going to Nikolay Ivanovitch Sviazhsky? His honor comes to us too," he began, chatting, leaning his elbows on the railing of the steps. In the middle of the old mans account of his acquaintance with Sviazhsky, the gates creaked again, and laborers came into the yard from the fields, with wooden ploughs and harrows. The horses harnessed to the ploughs and harrows were sleek and fat. The laborers were obviously of the household: two were young men in cotton shirts and caps, the two others were hired laborers in homespun shirts, one an old man, the other a young fellow. Moving off from the steps, the old man went up to the horses and began unharnessing them. "What have they been ploughing?" asked Levin. "Ploughing up the potatoes. We rent a bit of land too. Fedot, dont let out the gelding, but take it to the trough, and well put the other in harness." "Oh, father, the ploughshares I ordered, has he brought them along?" asked the big, healthy-looking fellow, obviously the old mans son. "There...in the outer room," answered the old man, bundling together the harness he had taken off, and flinging it on the ground. "You can put them on, while they have dinner." The good-looking young woman came into the outer room with the full pails dragging at her shoulders. More women came on the scene from somewhere, young and handsome, middle-aged, old and ugly, with children and without children. The samovar was beginning to sing; the laborers and the family, having disposed of the horses, came in to dinner. Levin, getting his provisions out of his carriage, invited the old man to take tea with him. "Well, I have had some today already," said the old man, obviously accepting the invitation with pleasure. "But just a glass for company." Over their tea Levin heard all about the old mans farming. Ten years before, the old man had rented three hundred acres from the lady who owned them, and a year ago he had bought them and rented another three hundred from a neighboring landowner. A small part of the land--the worst part--he let out for rent, while a hundred acres of arable land he cultivated himself with his family and two hired laborers. The old man complained that things were doing badly. But Levin saw that he simply did so from a feeling of propriety, and that his farm was in a flourishing condition. If it had been unsuccessful he would not have bought land at thirty-five roubles the acre, he would not have married his three sons and a nephew, he would not have rebuilt twice after fires, and each time on a larger scale. In spite of the old mans complaints, it was evident that he was proud, and justly proud, of his prosperity, proud of his sons, his nephew, his sons wives, his horses and his cows, and especially of the fact that he was keeping all this farming going. From his conversation with the old man, Levin thought he was not averse to new methods either. He had planted a great many potatoes, and his potatoes, as Levin had seen driving past, were already past flowering and beginning to die down, while Levins were only just coming into flower. He earthed up his potatoes with a modern plough borrowed from a neighboring landowner. He sowed wheat. The trifling fact that, thinning out his rye, the old man used the rye he thinned out for his horses, specially struck Levin. How many times had Levin seen this splendid fodder wasted, and tried to get it saved; but always it had turned out to be impossible. The

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