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Anna Karenina 362


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be understood from her explanation; but aware that her talk was pleasant and her hands beautiful she went on explaining. "More like little penknives," Veslovsky said playfully, never taking his eyes off her. Anna gave a just perceptible smile, but made no answer. "Isnt it true, Karl Fedoritch, that its just like little scissors?" she said to the steward. "_Oh, ja,_" answered the German. _"Es it ein ganz einfaches Ding,"_ and he began to explain the construction of the machine. "Its a pity it doesnt bind too. I saw one at the Vienna exhibition, which binds with a wire," said Sviazhsky. "They would be more profitable in use." _"Es kommt drauf an.... Der Preis vom Draht muss ausgerechnet werden."_ And the German, roused from his taciturnity, turned to Vronsky. _"Das laesst sich ausrechnen, Erlaucht."_ The German was just feeling in the pocket where were his pencil and the notebook he always wrote in, but recollecting that he was at a dinner, and observing Vronskys chilly glance, he checked himself. _"Zu compliziert, macht zu viel Klopot,"_ he concluded. _"Wuenscht man Dochots, so hat man auch Klopots,"_ said Vassenka Veslovsky, mimicking the German. _"Jadore lallemand,"_ he addressed Anna again with the same smile. _"Cessez,"_ she said with playful severity. "We expected to find you in the fields, Vassily Semyonitch," she said to the doctor, a sickly-looking man; "have you been there?" "I went there, but I had taken flight," the doctor answered with gloomy jocoseness. "Then youve taken a good constitutional?" "Splendid!" "Well, and how was the old woman? I hope its not typhus?" "Typhus it is not, but its taking a bad turn." "What a pity!" said Anna, and having thus paid the dues of civility to her domestic circle, she turned to her own friends. "It would be a hard task, though, to construct a machine from your description, Anna Arkadyevna," Sviazhsky said jestingly. "Oh, no, why so?" said Anna with a smile that betrayed that she knew there was something charming in her disquisitions upon the machine that had been noticed by Sviazhsky. This new trait of girlish coquettishness made an unpleasant impression on Dolly. "But Anna Arkadyevnas knowledge of architecture is marvelous," said Tushkevitch. "To be sure, I heard Anna Arkadyevna talking yesterday about plinths and damp-courses," said Veslovsky. "Have I got it right?" "Theres nothing marvelous about it, when one sees and hears so much of it," said Anna. "But, I dare say, you dont even know what houses are made of?" Darya Alexandrovna saw that Anna disliked the tone of raillery that existed between her and Veslovsky, but fell in with it against her will. Vronsky acted in this matter quite differently from Levin. He obviously attached no significance to Veslovskys chattering; on the contrary, he encouraged his jests. "Come now, tell us, Veslovsky, how are the stones held together?" "By cement, of course." "Bravo! And what is cement?" "Oh, some sort of paste...no, putty," said Veslovsky, raising a general laugh. The company at dinner, with the exception of the doctor, the architect, and the steward, who remained plunged in gloomy silence, kept up a conversation that never paused, glancing off one subject, fastening on another, and at times stinging one or the other to the quick. Once Darya Alexandrovna felt wounded to the quick, and got so hot that she positively flushed and wondered afterwards whether she had said anything extreme or unpleasant. Sviazhsky began talking of Levin, describing his strange view that machinery is simply pernicious in its effects on Russian agriculture. "I have not the pleasure of knowing this M. Levin," Vronsky said, smiling, "but most likely he has never seen the machines he condemns; or if he has seen and tried any, it must have been after a queer fashion, some Russian imitation, not a machine from abroad. What sort of views can anyone have on such a subject?" "Turkish views, in general," Veslovsky said, turning to Anna with a smile. "I cant defend his opinions," Darya Alexandrovna said, firing up; "but I can say that hes a highly cultivated man, and if he were here he would know very well how to answer you, though I am not capable of doing so." "I like him extremely, and we are great friends," Sviazhsky said, smiling good-naturedly. "_Mais pardon, il est un petit peu toque;_ he maintains, for instance, that district councils and arbitration boards are all of no use, and he is unwilling to take part in anything." "Its our Russian apathy," said Vronsky, pouring water from an iced decanter into a delicate glass on a high stem;

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