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were heard again. Two snipe, playing and chasing one another, and only whistling, not crying, flew straight at the very heads of the sportsmen. There was the report of four shots, and like swallows the snipe turned swift somersaults in the air and vanished from sight. The stand-shooting was capital. Stepan Arkadyevitch shot two more birds and Levin two, of which one was not found. It began to get dark. Venus, bright and silvery, shone with her soft light low down in the west behind the birch trees, and high up in the east twinkled the red lights of Arcturus. Over his head Levin made out the stars of the Great Bear and lost them again. The snipe had ceased flying; but Levin resolved to stay a little longer, till Venus, which he saw below a branch of birch, should be above it, and the stars of the Great Bear should be perfectly plain. Venus had risen above the branch, and the ear of the Great Bear with its shaft was now all plainly visible against the dark blue sky, yet still he waited. "Isnt it time to go home?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. It was quite still now in the copse, and not a bird was stirring. "Lets stay a little while," answered Levin. "As you like." They were standing now about fifteen paces from one another. "Stiva!" said Levin unexpectedly; "how is it you dont tell me whether your sister-in-laws married yet, or when shes going to be?" Levin felt so resolute and serene that no answer, he fancied, could affect him. But he had never dreamed of what Stepan Arkadyevitch replied. "Shes never thought of being married, and isnt thinking of it; but shes very ill, and the doctors have sent her abroad. Theyre positively afraid she may not live." "What!" cried Levin. "Very ill? What is wrong with her? How has she...?" While they were saying this, Laska, with ears pricked up, was looking upwards at the sky, and reproachfully at them. "They have chosen a time to talk," she was thinking. "Its on the wing.... Here it is, yes, it is. Theyll miss it," thought Laska. But at that very instant both suddenly heard a shrill whistle which, as it were, smote on their ears, and both suddenly seized their guns and two flashes gleamed, and two gangs sounded at the very same instant. The snipe flying high above instantly folded its wings and fell into a thicket, bending down the delicate shoots. "Splendid! Together!" cried Levin, and he ran with Laska into the thicket to look for the snipe. "Oh, yes, what was it that was unpleasant?" he wondered. "Yes, Kittys ill.... Well, it cant be helped; Im very sorry," he thought. "Shes found it! Isnt she a clever thing?" he said, taking the warm bird from Laskas mouth and packing it into the almost full game bag. "Ive got it, Stiva!" he shouted. Chapter 16 On the way home Levin asked all details of Kittys illness and the Shtcherbatskys plans, and though he would have been ashamed to admit it, he was pleased at what he heard. He was pleased that there was still hope, and still more pleased that she should be suffering who had made him suffer so much. But when Stepan Arkadyevitch began to speak of the causes of Kittys illness, and mentioned Vronskys name, Levin cut him short. "I have no right whatever to know family matters, and, to tell the truth, no interest in them either." Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled hardly perceptibly, catching the instantaneous change he knew so well in Levins face, which had become as gloomy as it had been bright a minute before. "Have you quite settled about the forest with Ryabinin?" asked Levin. "Yes, its settled. The price is magnificent; thirty-eight thousand. Eight straight away, and the rest in six years. Ive been bothering about it for ever so long. No one would give more." "Then youve as good as given away your forest for nothing," said Levin gloomily. "How do you mean for nothing?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with a good-humored smile, knowing that nothing would be right in Levins eyes now. "Because the forest is worth at least a hundred and fifty roubles the acre," answered Levin. "Oh, these farmers!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch playfully. "Your tone of contempt for us poor townsfolk!... But when it comes to business, we do it better than anyone. I assure you I have reckoned it all out," he said, "and the forest is

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