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Anna Karenina 95

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

fetching a very good price--so much so that Im afraid of this fellows crying off, in fact. You know its not timber," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, hoping by this distinction to convince Levin completely of the unfairness of his doubts. "And it wont run to more than twenty-five yards of fagots per acre, and hes giving me at the rate of seventy roubles the acre." Levin smiled contemptuously. "I know," he thought, "that fashion not only in him, but in all city people, who, after being twice in ten years in the country, pick up two or three phrases and use them in season and out of season, firmly persuaded that they know all about it. _Timber, run to so many yards the acre._ He says those words without understanding them himself." "I wouldnt attempt to teach you what you write about in your office," said he, "and if need arose, I should come to you to ask about it. But youre so positive you know all the lore of the forest. Its difficult. Have you counted the trees?" "How count the trees?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing, still trying to draw his friend out of his ill-temper. "Count the sands of the sea, number the stars. Some higher power might do it." "Oh, well, the higher power of Ryabinin can. Not a single merchant ever buys a forest without counting the trees, unless they get it given them for nothing, as youre doing now. I know your forest. I go there every year shooting, and your forests worth a hundred and fifty roubles an acre paid down, while hes giving you sixty by installments. So that in fact youre making him a present of thirty thousand." "Come, dont let your imagination run away with you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch piteously. "Why was it none would give it, then?" "Why, because he has an understanding with the merchants; hes bought them off. Ive had to do with all of them; I know them. Theyre not merchants, you know: theyre speculators. He wouldnt look at a bargain that gave him ten, fifteen per cent profit, but holds back to buy a roubles worth for twenty kopecks." "Well, enough of it! Youre out of temper." "Not the least," said Levin gloomily, as they drove up to the house. At the steps there stood a trap tightly covered with iron and leather, with a sleek horse tightly harnessed with broad collar-straps. In the trap sat the chubby, tightly belted clerk who served Ryabinin as coachman. Ryabinin himself was already in the house, and met the friends in the hall. Ryabinin was a tall, thinnish, middle-aged man, with mustache and a projecting clean-shaven chin, and prominent muddy-looking eyes. He was dressed in a long-skirted blue coat, with buttons below the waist at the back, and wore high boots wrinkled over the ankles and straight over the calf, with big galoshes drawn over them. He rubbed his face with his handkerchief, and wrapping round him his coat, which sat extremely well as it was, he greeted them with a smile, holding out his hand to Stepan Arkadyevitch, as though he wanted to catch something. "So here you are," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, giving him his hand. "Thats capital." "I did not venture to disregard your excellencys commands, though the road was extremely bad. I positively walked the whole way, but I am here at my time. Konstantin Dmitrievitch, my respects"; he turned to Levin, trying to seize his hand too. But Levin, scowling, made as though he did not notice his hand, and took out the snipe. "Your honors have been diverting yourselves with the chase? What kind of bird may it be, pray?" added Ryabinin, looking contemptuously at the snipe: "a great delicacy, I suppose." And he shook his head disapprovingly, as though he had grave doubts whether this game were worth the candle. "Would you like to go into my study?" Levin said in French to Stepan Arkadyevitch, scowling morosely. "Go into my study; you can talk there." "Quite so, where you please," said Ryabinin with contemptuous dignity, as though wishing to make it felt that others might be in difficulties as to how to behave, but that he could never be in any difficulty about anything. On entering the study Ryabinin looked about, as his habit was, as though seeking the holy picture, but when he had found it, he did not cross himself. He scanned the bookcases and bookshelves,

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