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Anna Karenina 9


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Anna Karenina

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that he would not get a position with the salary he required, especially as he expected nothing out of the way; he only wanted what the men of his own age and standing did get, and he was no worse qualified for performing duties of the kind than any other man. Stepan Arkadyevitch was not merely liked by all who knew him for his good humor, but for his bright disposition, and his unquestionable honesty. In him, in his handsome, radiant figure, his sparkling eyes, black hair and eyebrows, and the white and red of his face, there was something which produced a physical effect of kindliness and good humor on the people who met him. "Aha! Stiva! Oblonsky! Here he is!" was almost always said with a smile of delight on meeting him. Even though it happened at times that after a conversation with him it seemed that nothing particularly delightful had happened, the next day, and the next, every one was just as delighted at meeting him again. After filling for three years the post of president of one of the government boards at Moscow, Stepan Arkadyevitch had won the respect, as well as the liking, of his fellow-officials, subordinates, and superiors, and all who had had business with him. The principal qualities in Stepan Arkadyevitch which had gained him this universal respect in the service consisted, in the first place, of his extreme indulgence for others, founded on a consciousness of his own shortcomings; secondly, of his perfect liberalism--not the liberalism he read of in the papers, but the liberalism that was in his blood, in virtue of which he treated all men perfectly equally and exactly the same, whatever their fortune or calling might be; and thirdly--the most important point--his complete indifference to the business in which he was engaged, in consequence of which he was never carried away, and never made mistakes. On reaching the offices of the board, Stepan Arkadyevitch, escorted by a deferential porter with a portfolio, went into his little private room, put on his uniform, and went into the boardroom. The clerks and copyists all rose, greeting him with good-humored deference. Stepan Arkadyevitch moved quickly, as ever, to his place, shook hands with his colleagues, and sat down. He made a joke or two, and talked just as much as was consistent with due decorum, and began work. No one knew better than Stepan Arkadyevitch how to hit on the exact line between freedom, simplicity, and official stiffness necessary for the agreeable conduct of business. A secretary, with the good-humored deference common to every one in Stepan Arkadyevitchs office, came up with papers, and began to speak in the familiar and easy tone which had been introduced by Stepan Arkadyevitch. "We have succeeded in getting the information from the government department of Penza. Here, would you care?...." "Youve got them at last?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laying his finger on the paper. "Now, gentlemen...." And the sitting of the board began. "If they knew," he thought, bending his head with a significant air as he listened to the report, "what a guilty little boy their president was half an hour ago." And his eyes were laughing during the reading of the report. Till two oclock the sitting would go on without a break, and at two oclock there would be an interval and luncheon. It was not yet two, when the large glass doors of the boardroom suddenly opened and someone came in. All the officials sitting on the further side under the portrait of the Tsar and the eagle, delighted at any distraction, looked round at the door; but the doorkeeper standing at the door at once drove out the intruder, and closed the glass door after him. When the case had been read through, Stepan Arkadyevitch got up and stretched, and by way of tribute to the liberalism of the times took out a cigarette in the boardroom and went into his private room. Two of the members of the board, the old veteran in the service, Nikitin, and the _Kammerjunker Grinevitch_, went in with him. "We shall have time to finish after lunch," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "To be sure we shall!" said Nikitin. "A pretty sharp fellow this Fomin must be," said Grinevitch of one of the persons taking part in the case they were examining. Stepan Arkadyevitch frowned at Grinevitchs words, giving him thereby to understand that it was improper to pass judgment prematurely, and made him no reply. "Who was that came in?" he asked the doorkeeper. "Someone, your excellency, crept in

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