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Anna Karenina 217


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that on meeting Alexey Alexandrovitch the day before in the street he had noticed that he was cold and reserved with him, and putting the expression of Alexey Alexandrovitchs face and the fact that he had not come to see them or let them know of his arrival with the rumors he had heard about Anna and Vronsky, Stepan Arkadyevitch guessed that something was wrong between the husband and wife. That was one disagreeable thing. The other slightly disagreeable fact was that the new head of his department, like all new heads, had the reputation already of a terrible person, who got up at six oclock in the morning, worked like a horse, and insisted on his subordinates working in the same way. Moreover, this new head had the further reputation of being a bear in his manners, and was, according to all reports, a man of a class in all respects the opposite of that to which his predecessor had belonged, and to which Stepan Arkadyevitch had hitherto belonged himself. On the previous day Stepan Arkadyevitch had appeared at the office in a uniform, and the new chief had been very affable and had talked to him as to an acquaintance. Consequently Stepan Arkadyevitch deemed it his duty to call upon him in his non-official dress. The thought that the new chief might not tender him a warm reception was the other unpleasant thing. But Stepan Arkadyevitch instinctively felt that everything would _come round_ all right. "Theyre all people, all men, like us poor sinners; why be nasty and quarrelsome?" he thought as he went into the hotel. "Good-day, Vassily," he said, walking into the corridor with his hat cocked on one side, and addressing a footman he knew; "why, youve let your whiskers grow! Levin, number seven, eh? Take me up, please. And find out whether Count Anitchkin" (this was the new head) "is receiving." "Yes, sir," Vassily responded, smiling. "Youve not been to see us for a long while." "I was here yesterday, but at the other entrance. Is this number seven?" Levin was standing with a peasant from Tver in the middle of the room, measuring a fresh bearskin, when Stepan Arkadyevitch went in. "What! you killed him?" cried Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Well done! A she-bear? How are you, Arhip!" He shook hands with the peasant and sat down on the edge of a chair, without taking off his coat and hat. "Come, take off your coat and stay a little," said Levin, taking his hat. "No, I havent time; Ive only looked in for a tiny second," answered Stepan Arkadyevitch. He threw open his coat, but afterwards did take it off, and sat on for a whole hour, talking to Levin about hunting and the most intimate subjects. "Come, tell me, please, what you did abroad? Where have you been?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, when the peasant had gone. "Oh, I stayed in Germany, in Prussia, in France, and in England-- not in the capitals, but in the manufacturing towns, and saw a great deal that was new to me. And Im glad I went." "Yes, I knew your idea of the solution of the labor question." "Not a bit: in Russia there can be no labor question. In Russia the question is that of the relation of the working people to the land; though the question exists there too--but there its a matter of repairing whats been ruined, while with us..." Stepan Arkadyevitch listened attentively to Levin. "Yes, yes!" he said, "its very possible youre right. But Im glad youre in good spirits, and are hunting bears, and working, and interested. Shtcherbatsky told me another story--he met you--that you were in such a depressed state, talking of nothing but death...." "Well, what of it? Ive not given up thinking of death," said Levin. "Its true that its high time I was dead; and that all this is nonsense. Its the truth Im telling you. I do value my idea and my work awfully; but in reality only consider this: all this world of ours is nothing but a speck of mildew, which has grown up on a tiny planet. And for us to suppose we can have something great--ideas, work--its all dust and ashes." "But all thats as old as the hills, my boy!" "It is old; but do you know, when you grasp this fully, then somehow everything becomes of no consequence. When you understand that you will die tomorrow, if not today,

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