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Anna Karenina 378


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Anna Karenina

War And Peace




Nevyedovsky?" said Levin, feeling he was putting his foot into it. But this was worse still. Nevyedovsky and Sviazhsky were the two candidates. "I certainly shall not, under any circumstances," answered the malignant gentleman. This was Nevyedovsky himself. Sviazhsky introduced him to Levin. "Well, you find it exciting too?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, winking at Vronsky. "Its something like a race. One might bet on it." "Yes, it is keenly exciting," said Vronsky. "And once taking the thing up, ones eager to see it through. Its a fight!" he said, scowling and setting his powerful jaws. "What a capable fellow Sviazhsky is! Sees it all so clearly." "Oh, yes!" Vronsky assented indifferently. A silence followed, during which Vronsky--since he had to look at something--looked at Levin, at his feet, at his uniform, then at his face, and noticing his gloomy eyes fixed upon him, he said, in order to say something: "How is it that you, living constantly in the country, are not a justice of the peace? You are not in the uniform of one." "Its because I consider that the justice of the peace is a silly institution," Levin answered gloomily. He had been all the time looking for an opportunity to enter into conversation with Vronsky, so as to smooth over his rudeness at their first meeting. "I dont think so, quite the contrary," Vronsky said, with quiet surprise. "Its a plaything," Levin cut him short. "We dont want justices of the peace. Ive never had a single thing to do with them during eight years. And what I have had was decided wrongly by them. The justice of the peace is over thirty miles from me. For some matter of two roubles I should have to send a lawyer, who costs me fifteen." And he related how a peasant had stolen some flour from the miller, and when the miller told him of it, had lodged a complaint for slander. All this was utterly uncalled for and stupid, and Levin felt it himself as he said it. "Oh, this is such an original fellow!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with his most soothing, almond-oil smile. "But come along; I think theyre voting...." And they separated. "I cant understand," said Sergey Ivanovitch, who had observed his brothers clumsiness, "I cant understand how anyone can be so absolutely devoid of political tact. Thats where we Russians are so deficient. The marshal of the province is our opponent, and with him youre _ami cochon_, and you beg him to stand. Count Vronsky, now ...Im not making a friend of him; hes asked me to dinner, and Im not going; but hes one of our side--why make an enemy of him? Then you ask Nevyedovsky if hes going to stand. Thats not a thing to do." "Oh, I dont understand it at all! And its all such nonsense," Levin answered gloomily. "You say its all such nonsense, but as soon as you have anything to do with it, you make a muddle." Levin did not answer, and they walked together into the big room. The marshal of the province, though he was vaguely conscious in the air of some trap being prepared for him, and though he had not been called upon by all to stand, had still made up his mind to stand. All was silence in the room. The secretary announced in a loud voice that the captain of the guards, Mihail Stepanovitch Snetkov, would now be balloted for as marshal of the province. The district marshals walked carrying plates, on which were balls, from their tables to the high table, and the election began. "Put it in the right side," whispered Stepan Arkadyevitch, as with his brother Levin followed the marshal of his district to the table. But Levin had forgotten by now the calculations that had been explained to him, and was afraid Stepan Arkadyevitch might be mistaken in saying "the right side." Surely Snetkov was the enemy. As he went up, he held the ball in his right hand, but thinking he was wrong, just at the box he changed to the left hand, and undoubtedly put the ball to the left. An adept in the business, standing at the box and seeing by the mere action of the elbow where each put his ball, scowled with annoyance. It was no good for him to use his insight. Everything was still, and the counting of the balls was heard. Then a single voice rose and proclaimed the numbers

Anna Karenina page 377        Anna Karenina page 379