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Anna Karenina 334

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

in his movements. Stepan Arkadyevitch evidently had the same desire, and on his face Levin saw the look of anxiety always present in a true sportsman when beginning shooting, together with a certain good-humored slyness peculiar to him. "How shall we go? Its a splendid marsh, I see, and there are hawks," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, pointing to two great birds hovering over the reeds. "Where there are hawks, there is sure to be game." "Now, gentlemen," said Levin, pulling up his boots and examining the lock of his gun with rather a gloomy expression, "do you see those reeds?" He pointed to an oasis of blackish green in the huge half-mown wet meadow that stretched along the right bank of the river. "The marsh begins here, straight in front of us, do you see--where it is greener? From here it runs to the right where the horses are; there are breeding places there, and grouse, and all round those reeds as far as that alder, and right up to the mill. Over there, do you see, where the pools are? Thats the best place. There I once shot seventeen snipe. Well separate with the dogs and go in different directions, and then meet over there at the mill." "Well, which shall go to left and which to right?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Its wider to the right; you two go that way and Ill take the left," he said with apparent carelessness. "Capital! well make the bigger bag! Yes, come along, come along!" Vassenka exclaimed. Levin could do nothing but agree, and they divided. As soon as they entered the marsh, the two dogs began hunting about together and made towards the green, slime-covered pool. Levin knew Laskas method, wary and indefinite; he knew the place too and expected a whole covey of snipe. "Veslovsky, beside me, walk beside me!" he said in a faint voice to his companion splashing in the water behind him. Levin could not help feeling an interest in the direction his gun was pointed, after that casual shot near the Kolpensky marsh. "Oh, I wont get in your way, dont trouble about me." But Levin could not help troubling, and recalled Kittys words at parting: "Mind you dont shoot one another." The dogs came nearer and nearer, passed each other, each pursuing its own scent. The expectation of snipe was so intense that to Levin the squelching sound of his own heel, as he drew it up out of the mire, seemed to be the call of a snipe, and he clutched and pressed the lock of his gun. "Bang! bang!" sounded almost in his ear. Vassenka had fired at a flock of ducks which was hovering over the marsh and flying at that moment towards the sportsmen, far out of range. Before Levin had time to look round, there was the whir of one snipe, another, a third, and some eight more rose one after another. Stepan Arkadyevitch hit one at the very moment when it was beginning its zigzag movements, and the snipe fell in a heap into the mud. Oblonsky aimed deliberately at another, still flying low in the reeds, and together with the report of the shot, that snipe too fell, and it could be seen fluttering out where the sedge had been cut, its unhurt wing showing white beneath. Levin was not so lucky: he aimed at his first bird too low, and missed; he aimed at it again, just as it was rising, but at that instant another snipe flew up at his very feet, distracting him so that he missed again. While they were loading their guns, another snipe rose, and Veslovsky, who had had time to load again, sent two charges of small-shot into the water. Stepan Arkadyevitch picked up his snipe, and with sparkling eyes looked at Levin. "Well, now let us separate," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, and limping on his left foot, holding his gun in readiness and whistling to his dog, he walked off in one direction. Levin and Veslovsky walked in the other. It always happened with Levin that when his first shots were a failure he got hot and out of temper, and shot badly the whole day. So it was that day. The snipe showed themselves in numbers. They kept flying up from just under the dogs, from under the sportsmens legs, and Levin might have retrieved his ill luck. But the more he shot, the more he felt disgraced in the eyes

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