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Anna Karenina 98


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ready for the visitor but Oblonsky had not used. "Only look; why, its a work of art." "Yes, everythings brought to such a pitch of perfection nowadays," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, with a moist and blissful yawn. "The theater, for instance, and the entertainments... a--a--a!" he yawned. "The electric light everywhere...a--a--a!" "Yes, the electric light," said Levin. "Yes. Oh, and wheres Vronsky now?" he asked suddenly, laying down the soap. "Vronsky?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, checking his yawn; "hes in Petersburg. He left soon after you did, and hes not once been in Moscow since. And do you know, Kostya, Ill tell you the truth," he went on, leaning his elbow on the table, and propping on his hand his handsome ruddy face, in which his moist, good-natured, sleepy eyes shone like stars. "Its your own fault. You took fright at the sight of your rival. But, as I told you at the time, I couldnt say which had the better chance. Why didnt you fight it out? I told you at the time that...." He yawned inwardly, without opening his mouth. "Does he know, or doesnt he, that I did make an offer?" Levin wondered, gazing at him. "Yes, theres something humbugging, diplomatic in his face," and feeling he was blushing, he looked Stepan Arkadyevitch straight in the face without speaking. "If there was anything on her side at the time, it was nothing but a superficial attraction," pursued Oblonsky. "His being such a perfect aristocrat, dont you know, and his future position in society, had an influence not with her, but with her mother." Levin scowled. The humiliation of his rejection stung him to the heart, as though it were a fresh wound he had only just received. But he was at home, and the walls of home are a support. "Stay, stay," he began, interrupting Oblonsky. "You talk of his being an aristocrat. But allow me to ask what it consists in, that aristocracy of Vronsky or of anybody else, beside which I can be looked down upon? You consider Vronsky an aristocrat, but I dont. A man whose father crawled up from nothing at all by intrigue, and whose mother--God knows whom she wasnt mixed up with.... No, excuse me, but I consider myself aristocratic, and people like me, who can point back in the past to three or four honorable generations of their family, of the highest degree of breeding (talent and intellect, of course thats another matter), and have never curried favor with anyone, never depended on anyone for anything, like my father and my grandfather. And I know many such. You think it mean of me to count the trees in my forest, while you make Ryabinin a present of thirty thousand; but you get rents from your lands and I dont know what, while I dont and so I prize whats come to me from my ancestors or been won by hard work.... We are aristocrats, and not those who can only exist by favor of the powerful of this world, and who can be bought for twopence halfpenny." "Well, but whom are you attacking? I agree with you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, sincerely and genially; though he was aware that in the class of those who could be bought for twopence halfpenny Levin was reckoning him too. Levins warmth gave him genuine pleasure. "Whom are you attacking? Though a good deal is not true that you say about Vronsky, but I wont talk about that. I tell you straight out, if I were you, I should go back with me to Moscow, and..." "No; I dont know whether you know it or not, but I dont care. And I tell you--I did make an offer and was rejected, and Katerina Alexandrovna is nothing now to me but a painful and humiliating reminiscence." "What ever for? What nonsense!" "But we wont talk about it. Please forgive me, if Ive been nasty," said Levin. Now that he had opened his heart, he became as he had been in the morning. "Youre not angry with me, Stiva? Please dont be angry," he said, and smiling, he took his hand. "Of course not; not a bit, and no reason to be. Im glad weve spoken openly. And do you know, stand-shooting in the morning is unusually good--why not go? I couldnt sleep the night anyway, but I might go straight from

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