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Anna Karenina 412

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

from Karenin a definite answer on the question of divorce. And begging fifty roubles from Dolly, he set off for Petersburg. Stepan Arkadyevitch sat in Karenins study listening to his report on the causes of the unsatisfactory position of Russian finance, and only waiting for the moment when he would finish to speak about his own business or about Anna. "Yes, thats very true," he said, when Alexey Alexandrovitch took off the pince-nez, without which he could not read now, and looked inquiringly at his former brother-in-law, "thats very true in particular cases, but still the principle of our day is freedom." "Yes, but I lay down another principle, embracing the principle of freedom," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, with emphasis on the word "embracing," and he put on his pince-nez again, so as to read the passage in which this statement was made. And turning over the beautifully written, wide-margined manuscript, Alexey Alexandrovitch read aloud over again the conclusive passage. "I dont advocate protection for the sake of private interests, but for the public weal, and for the lower and upper classes equally," he said, looking over his pince-nez at Oblonsky. "But _they_ cannot grasp that, _they_ are taken up now with personal interests, and carried away by phrases." Stepan Arkadyevitch knew that when Karenin began to talk of what _they_ were doing and thinking, the persons who would not accept his report and were the cause of everything wrong in Russia, that it was coming near the end. And so now he eagerly abandoned the principle of free-trade, and fully agreed. Alexey Alexandrovitch paused, thoughtfully turning over the pages of his manuscript. "Oh, by the way," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "I wanted to ask you, some time when you see Pomorsky, to drop him a hint that I should be very glad to get that new appointment of secretary of the committee of the amalgamated agency of the southern railways and banking companies." Stepan Arkadyevitch was familiar by now with the title of the post he coveted, and he brought it out rapidly without mistake. Alexey Alexandrovitch questioned him as to the duties of this new committee, and pondered. He was considering whether the new committee would not be acting in some way contrary to the views he had been advocating. But as the influence of the new committee was of a very complex nature, and his views were of very wide application, he could not decide this straight off, and taking off his pince-nez, he said: "Of course, I can mention it to him; but what is your reason precisely for wishing to obtain the appointment?" "Its a good salary, rising to nine thousand, and my means..." "Nine thousand!" repeated Alexey Alexandrovitch, and he frowned. The high figure of the salary made him reflect that on that side Stepan Arkadyevitchs proposed position ran counter to the main tendency of his own projects of reform, which always leaned towards economy. "I consider, and I have embodied my views in a note on the subject, that in our day these immense salaries are evidence of the unsound economic _assiette_ of our finances." "But whats to be done?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Suppose a bank director gets ten thousand--well, hes worth it; or an engineer gets twenty thousand--after all, its a growing thing, you know!" "I assume that a salary is the price paid for a commodity, and it ought to conform with the law of supply and demand. If the salary is fixed without any regard for that law, as, for instance, when I see two engineers leaving college together, both equally well trained and efficient, and one getting forty thousand while the other is satisfied with two; or when I see lawyers and hussars, having no special qualifications, appointed directors of banking companies with immense salaries, I conclude that the salary is not fixed in accordance with the law of supply and demand, but simply through personal interest. And this is an abuse of great gravity in itself, and one that reacts injuriously on the government service. I consider..." Stepan Arkadyevitch made haste to interrupt his brother-in-law. "Yes; but you must agree that its a new institution of undoubted utility thats being started. After all, you know, its a growing thing! What they lay particular stress on is the thing being carried on honestly," said Stepan Arkadyevitch with emphasis. But the Moscow significance of the word "honest" was lost on Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Honesty is only a negative qualification," he said. "Well, youll do me a great service, anyway," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "by putting in a word to Pomorsky--just

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