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Anna Karenina 20


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of fare. And his face expressed serious hesitation. "Are the oysters good? Mind now." "Theyre Flensburg, your excellency. Weve no Ostend." "Flensburg will do, but are they fresh?" "Only arrived yesterday." "Well, then, how if we were to begin with oysters, and so change the whole program? Eh?" "Its all the same to me. I should like cabbage soup and porridge better than anything; but of course theres nothing like that here." "_Porridge a la Russe,_ your honor would like?" said the Tatar, bending down to Levin, like a nurse speaking to a child. "No, joking apart, whatever you choose is sure to be good. Ive been skating, and Im hungry. And dont imagine," he added, detecting a look of dissatisfaction on Oblonskys face, "that I shant appreciate your choice. I am fond of good things." "I should hope so! After all, its one of the pleasures of life," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Well, then, my friend, you give us two--or better say three--dozen oysters, clear soup with vegetables..." "Printaniere," prompted the Tatar. But Stepan Arkadyevitch apparently did not care to allow him the satisfaction of giving the French names of the dishes. "With vegetables in it, you know. Then turbot with thick sauce, then...roast beef; and mind its good. Yes, and capons, perhaps, and then sweets." The Tatar, recollecting that it was Stepan Arkadyevitchs way not to call the dishes by the names in the French bill of fare, did not repeat them after him, but could not resist rehearsing the whole menu to himself according to the bill:--"_Soupe printaniere, turbot, sauce Beaumarchais, poulard a lestragon, macedoine de fruits_...etc.," and then instantly, as though worked by springs, laying down one bound bill of fare, he took up another, the list of wines, and submitted it to Stepan Arkadyevitch. "What shall we drink?" "What you like, only not too much. Champagne," said Levin. "What! to start with? Youre right though, I dare say. Do you like the white seal?" "_Cachet blanc,_" prompted the Tatar. "Very well, then, give us that brand with the oysters, and then well see." "Yes, sir. And what table wine?" "You can give us Nuits. Oh, no, better the classic Chablis." "Yes, sir. And _your_ cheese, your excellency?" "Oh, yes, Parmesan. Or would you like another?" "No, its all the same to me," said Levin, unable to suppress a smile. And the Tatar ran off with flying coat-tails, and in five minutes darted in with a dish of opened oysters on mother-of-pearl shells, and a bottle between his fingers. Stepan Arkadyevitch crushed the starchy napkin, tucked it into his waistcoat, and settling his arms comfortably, started on the oysters. "Not bad," he said, stripping the oysters from the pearly shell with a silver fork, and swallowing them one after another. "Not bad," he repeated, turning his dewy, brilliant eyes from Levin to the Tatar. Levin ate the oysters indeed, though white bread and cheese would have pleased him better. But he was admiring Oblonsky. Even the Tatar, uncorking the bottle and pouring the sparkling wine into the delicate glasses, glanced at Stepan Arkadyevitch, and settled his white cravat with a perceptible smile of satisfaction. "You dont care much for oysters, do you?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, emptying his wine glass, "or youre worried about something. Eh?" He wanted Levin to be in good spirits. But it was not that Levin was not in good spirits; he was ill at ease. With what he had in his soul, he felt sore and uncomfortable in the restaurant, in the midst of private rooms where men were dining with ladies, in all this fuss and bustle; the surroundings of bronzes, looking glasses, gas, and waiters--all of it was offensive to him. He was afraid of sullying what his soul was brimful of. "I? Yes, I am; but besides, all this bothers me," he said. "You cant conceive how queer it all seems to a country person like me, as queer as that gentlemans nails I saw at your place..." "Yes, I saw how much interested you were in poor Grinevitchs nails," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing. "Its too much for me," responded Levin. "Do try, now, and put yourself in my place, take the point of view of a country person. We in the country try to bring our hands into such a state as will be most convenient for working with. So we cut our nails; sometimes we turn up our sleeves. And here people purposely let their nails grow as

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