top of page

Anna Karenin, by Leo Tolstoy (excerpts)




After the lesson with the grammar teacher came his father's lesson. While waiting for his father, Seriozha sat at the table playing with a pen-knife and thinking. One of his favourite occupations was to keep a look-out for his mother during his walks. He did not believe in death generally, and in her death in particular, in spite of what Lydia Ivanovna had told him and his father had confirmed, and it was just because of that, and after he had been told she was dead, that he had begun looking for her when he was having his walk. Every comely graceful woman with dark hair was his mother. At the sight of every such woman his heart would swell with tenderness until his breath failed him and the tears came into his eyes. And he was on tiptoe with expectation that she would come up to him, would lift her veil. All her face would be visible, she would smile, she would take him in her arms, he would sniff her fragrance, feel the tender clasp of her hand, and cry with happiness, just as he had done one evening when he had rolled at her feet and she had tickled him, while he shook with laughter and bit her white hand with the rings on the fingers. Later, when he accidentally learned from his old nurse that his mother was not dead, and his father and Lydia Ivanovna had explained that to him she was dead because she was a wicked woman (which he could not possibly believe, because he loved her), he went on looking for her and expecting her in the same way. That day in the public gardens there had been a lady in a lilac veil, whom he had watched with throbbing heart, believing it to be her as she came towards them along the path. The lady had not come up to them, but had disappeared somewhere. To-day Seriozha felt a rush of love for her, stronger than ever, and now as he sat waiting for his father he forgot everything, and notched -all round the edge of the table with his knife, staring before him with shining eyes and dreaming of her.

'Here comes your Papa!' said Vassily Lukich, rousing him.

Seriozha jumped up and went to kiss his father's hand, looking at him searchingly, trying to discover signs of his joy at receiving the Alexander Nevsky.

'Did you have a nice walk?' asked Karenin, sitting down in his easy-chair, pulling towards him the volume of the Old Testament and opening it. Although Karenin had more than once impressed upon Seriozha that every Christian ought to have a thorough knowledge of Bible history, he himself often referred to the Old Testament during the lesson, and Seriozha observed this.

Yes, it was very nice indeed, Papa,' said Seriozha, sitting sideways on his chair and rocking it, which he had been told not to do. 'I saw Nadinka' (Nadinka was Lydia Ivanovna's niece, who was being brought up by her aunt). “She told me you've been given a new decoration. Are you glad, Papa?'

‘First of all, don't rock your chair, please,' said Karenin. 'And secondly, it is not the reward that is precious, but the work itself. And I could wish you understood that. You see, if you are going to take pains and learn your lessons in order to win a reward, the work will seem hard; but when you work' (Karenin said this, remembering how he had been sustained by a sense of duty that morning in the monotonous task of signing one hundred and eighteen documents), 'loving your work, you will find your reward in the work itself.'

The sparkling, affectionate light in Seriozha's eyes faltered and died under his father's gaze. This was the same old tone his father always took with him, and Seriozha had learned by now to fall in with it. His father always talked to him, Seriozha felt, as if he were addressing some imaginary boy out of a book, utterly unlike himself. And when he was with his father Seriozha always tried to be that boy out of a book.

'You understand that, I hope?' said his father.

'Yes, Papa,' answered Seriozha, acting the part of the imaginary boy.

The lesson consisted in learning by heart some verses from the Gospel and repeating the beginning of the Old Testament. The verses from the Gospel Seriozha knew fairly well, but just as he was reciting them he became so absorbed in watching a bone in his father's forehead, which turned so abruptly at the temples, that he got mixed up and put the end of one verse on to the beginning of another where the same word occurred. Karenin concluded that he did not understand what he was saying, and this irritated him.

He frowned, and began explaining what Seriozha had heard dozens of times before and never could remember, because he understood it too well, just as he could not remember that 'suddenly' is an adverb of manner of action. Seriozha looked at his father with scared eyes, and could think of nothing but whether his father would make him repeat what he had just said, as he sometimes did. He was so terrified at the thought that he no longer understood anything. However, his father did not make him repeat it, and passed on to the lesson from the Old Testament. Seriozha related the events themselves well enough, but when it came to answering questions as to what some of the events foretold, he knew nothing, though he had been punished be fore over this lesson. The passage about which he could not say anything at all, and at which he began foundering and cutting the table and rocking his chair, was where he had to repeat the patriarchs before the Flood. He did not know one of them, except Enoch, who had been taken up to heaven alive. Last time he had remembered their names, but now he could only think of Enoch, chiefly because Enoch was his favourite character in the whole of the Old Testament, and attached to Enoch's being taken up alive to heaven there was a whole train of thought to which he surrendered himself now while he stared at his father's watch-chain and a half-unfastened button on his waistcoat.

In death, of which they had told him so many times, Seriozha disbelieved entirely. He did not believe that the people he loved could die, above all that he himself would die. That was to him something quite inconceivable and impossible. But he had been told that everyone dies: he had gone so far as to ask people whom he trusted, and found that they, too, believed in death - even his old nurse said the same, though reluctantly. But Enoch had not died, so not everybody died. ‘And why shouldn't anyone else deserve the same in God's sight and be taken up to heaven alive?' thought Seriozha. Bad people – that is, those whom Seriozha did not like – they might die, but all the good ones might be like Enoch.

'Well, what are the names of the patriarchs?' 'Enoch, Enos ...'

'Yes, you have already said them. This is bad, Seriozha, very bad. If you don't try to learn the things that are more necessary than anything for a Christian,' said his father, getting up, 'whatever can interest you? I am not pleased with you, and Piotr Ignatich' (this was the most important of his teachers) 'is not pleased with you. ... I shall have to punish you.'

His father and his teacher were both dissatisfied with Seriozha, and he certainly did learn his lessons very badly. Yet it could not be said that he was a stupid boy. On the contrary, he was far cleverer than the boys his teacher held up as examples to Seriozha. In his father's opinion, he did not try to learn what he was taught. As a matter of fact, he could not learn it. He could not, because his soul was full of other more urgent claims than those his father and the teacher made upon him. Those claims were in opposition, and he was in direct conflict with his instructors.

He was nine years old; he was a child; but he knew his own soul and treasured it, guarding it as the eyelid guards the eye, and without the key of love he let no one into his heart. His teachers complained that he would not learn, while his soul was thirsting for knowledge. So he learned from Kapitonich, from his nurse, from Nadinka, from Vassily Lukich, but not from his teachers. The water which his father and his teacher hoped would turn their mill-wheels had long since leaked away and was doing its work in another channel.

His father punished Seriozha by not letting him go and see Nadinka, Lydia Ivanovna's niece; but this punishment turned out happily for Seriozha. Vassily Lukich was in a good humour, and showed him how to make windmills. He spent the whole evening trying to make one and dreaming of a windmill you could turn round on, either by catching hold of the sails or tying yourself on and spinning round. Seriozha did not think of his mother all the evening, but when he was in bed he suddenly remembered her and prayed in his own words that to morrow, for his birthday, his mother might leave off hiding herself and come to him.

'Vassily Lukich, do you know what I have been saying an extra special prayer for?'

'To learn your lessons better?' 'No.' 'For toys?'

‘No. You'll never guess. It's a lovely secret! When it comes true I'll tell you. Can't you guess?'

'No, I can't guess. You will have to tell me,' said Vassily Lukich with a smile, which was rare with him. ‘Now lie down; I'm going to blow out the candle.

'The thing I've been praying for I can see better without the candle. There! I nearly told you the secret!' said Seriozha, laughing merrily.

When the candle was taken away, Seriozha heard and felt his mother. She stood over him and caressed him with a loving look. But then windmills appeared, and a pen-knife, and everything began to be mixed up, and he fell asleep.

. . .


ONE of Anna's objects in coming back to Russia had been to see her son. From the day she left Italy the thought of seeing him had never ceased to agitate her. And the nearer she drew to Petersburg, the greater did the delight and importance of this meeting appear in her imagination. She did not even stop to ask herself how it could be arranged. It seemed such a simple and natural thing to see her son when she should be in the same town with him. But as soon as she arrived in Petersburg she suddenly realized her present position in society, and grasped the fact that it would be no easy matter to arrange this meeting.

She had been two days now in Petersburg. The thought of her son never left her for a single instant, but she had not yet seen him. She felt she had no right to go straight to the house, where she ran the risk of encountering Karenin. Besides, they might insult her and refuse to let her in. The thought of writing to her husband, and so enter into relations with him, was too painful to entertain: she could be at peace only when she did not think of her husband. To get a glimpse of her son out walking, finding out where and when he went out, was not enough for her: she had so long been looking forward to this meeting, had so much to say to him and so many hugs and kisses to give him. Seriozha's old nurse might have helped and advised her, but she was no longer in Karenin's house. Thus two days went by in this uncertainty and in efforts to find the old nurse.

Hearing of the close friendship between Karenin and the Countess Lydia Ivanovna, Anna decided on the third day to write her a letter, which cost her great pains, in which she purposely mentioned that permission to see her son must depend on her husband's generosity. She knew that if the letter were shown to her husband, he would keep up his role of the magnanimous husband, and would not refuse her request.

The commissionaire who took the letter brought back the cruellest and most unexpected of answers, that there was no answer. She had never felt so humiliated as when, sending for the commissionaire, she heard from him a detailed account of how he had waited, and how afterwards he had been told there was no answer. Anna felt humili. ated, insulted, but she saw that from her own point of view the Countess Lydia Ivanovna was right. Her suffering was the more poignant that she had to bear it in solitude. She could not and would not share it with Vronsky. She knew that to him, though he was the primary cause of her distress, the question of seeing her son would seem a mari ter of very little account. She knew that he would never be capable of appreciating all the depth of her anguish, and that his cool tone if the subject were mentioned would make her hate him. And she dreaded that more than anything else in the world, and so she concealed from him everything that related to her son.

She remained in the hotel all that day, trying to think out ways of seeing the boy, and finally resolved to write to her husband. She was just composing the letter in her mind when Lydia Ivanovna's letter was brought to her. The countess's silence had subdued and humbled her, but the letter and what she read between its lines so infuriated her, this malice seemed so shocking beside her passionate, legitimate love for her son, that she was filled with anger against other people and left off blaming herself.

'That coldness, that pretence of feeling!' she said to herself. 'They are only out to wound me and torture the child, and I am to submit! Not on any account! She is worse than I am: at least I don't lie!' And there and then she decided that the very next day, Seriozha's birthday, she would go straight to her husband's house, bribe the servants - do anything - but at all costs see her son and destroy the monstrous web of falsehood with which they had surrounded the unfortunate child.

She drove to a toyshop, bought a whole lot of toys, and thought over a plan of action. She would go early in the morning, about eight o'clock, when Karenin would be certain not to be up. She would have money in her hand to give the hall-porter and the footman, so that they should let her in. Without raising her veil, she would say she had come from Seriozha's godfather to wish him many happy returns, and that she had been charged to leave the toys at his bedside. The only thing she did not prepare was what she would say to her son. Often as she thought about it, she could not form the least idea.

At eight o'clock the next morning Anna got out of a hired sledge and rang the bell at the front entrance of her former home.

'Go and see what's wanted. It's a lady,' said Kapitonich, who, not yet dressed, in his overcoat and goloshes, had peeped out of a window and caught sight of a lady in a veil standing close up to the door. His assistant, a lad Anna did not know, had no sooner opened the door than she stepped in and, pulling a three-rouble note from her muff, hastily thrust it into his hand.

Seriozha - Sergei Alexeich,' she said, and walked past. Scrutinizing the note, the lad rushed after her and stopped her at the other glass door.

'Whom do you want?' he asked. She did not hear, and made no answer.

Observing the embarrassment of the unknown lady, Kapitonich himself came out, opened the second door for her, and inquired what she was pleased to want.

'I come from Prince Skorodumov to see Sergei Alexeich,' she said.

'His honour's not up yet,' said the hall-porter, looking at her attentively.

Anna had not anticipated that the totally unaltered appearance of the hall of the house which had been her home for nine years would affect her so powerfully. Memories sweet and painful rose one after another in her heart, and for a moment she forgot why she was there.

'Will you be so kind as to wait a little?' said Kapitonich, helping her off with her fur cloak.

When he had done so, Kapitonich glanced at her face and, recognizing her in silence, made her a low bow.

'Come in, your excellency,' he said.

She tried to speak, but her voice refused to utter a sound. With a guilty and imploring look at the old man she went with light, swift steps up the staircase. Bent double, his goloshes catching on the stairs, Kapitonich ran after her, trying to overtake her.

"The tutor's there - maybe he's not dressed. I'll let him know.'

Anna continued up the familiar staircase, not understanding what the old man was saying.

"This way, to the left, please. Excuse its not being tidy. His honour's been moved into the old parlour now,' said the hall-porter, panting.

Allow me! Please wait a moment, your excellency. I'll just have a look.' He got in front of her, half opened the big door and disappeared behind it. Anna stood still waiting. 'He's only just awake,' said the hall-porter, coming out again.

As he spoke, Anna heard the sound of a childish yawn. By this sound alone she recognized her son and seemed to see him before her eyes.

'Let me in, let me in - go away!' she said, and went in through the high doorway. To the right of the door stood a bed, and sitting up in the bed was the boy. His nightshirt unbuttoned, his little body bent forward, he was stretching and finishing his yawn. The instant his lips came together they curved into a blissful sleepy smile, and he rolled slowly and deliciously back again, still smiling.

Seriozha!' she whispered, walking softly up to the bed. When she was parted from him, and all this latter time when she had been feeling an access of love and longing for him, she had pictured him as he was at four years old, the age at which she had loved him most. Now he was not even the same as when she had left. He was still further from the four-year-old baby: he had grown taller and was thinner. Oh, and how thin his face looked, and how short his hair was! How long his arms seemed! How much he had changed since she left him! But it was still Seriozha – there was the shape of his head, his lips, his soft neck and broad little shoulders.

'Seriozha!' she repeated almost in the child's ear.

He raised himself again on his elbow, turned his tousled head from side to side as though seeking something, and opened his eyes. Slowly and inquiringly he gazed for several seconds at his mother standing motionless before him; then all at once he smiled blissfully and closing his sleepy eyelids toppled not backwards but forward into her arms.

'Seriozha, my darling boy! she murmured, catching her breath and putting her arms round his chubby little body.

'Mama!' he whispered, wriggling about in her arms so as to touch them with different parts of him.

Smiling sleepily, with his eyes still shut, he moved his plump little hands from behind him, flinging his arms round her shoulders and leaning against her, enveloping her with that sweet fragrance of warmth and sleepiness peculiar to children, and began rubbing his face against her neck and shoulder.

'I knew,' he said, opening his eyes. “To-day is my birthday. I knew you'd come. I'll get up now... And as he spoke he began to doze off again.

Anna watched him with hungry eyes. She noticed how he had grown and changed in her absence. She recognized and did not recognize the bare legs so long now, which he had freed from the quilt, the cheeks that had grown thinner, and those short-cropped curls on his neck, where she so often used to kiss him. She passed her hand over it all and could not speak: tears choked her.

"Why are you crying, Mama?' he said, completely awake now. "Mama, what are you crying for?' he asked in a tearful voice.

'I won't cry... I'm crying for joy! It's such a long time since I've seen you. But I won't cry any more, she said, gulping down her tears and turning away. 'Come, it's time for you to get dressed,' she added, after a pause, when she had recovered; and, never letting go his hands, she sat down on the chair beside the bed where his clothes were lying ready for him.

'How do you dress without me? How ...' She wanted to talk to him naturally and cheerfully, but could not, and again she had to turn away.

'I don't have a cold bath. Papa won't let me. And you haven't seen Vassily Lukich, have you? He'll come in presently. Why, you're sitting on my clothes!'

And Seriozha went off into a peal of laughter. She looked at him and smiled.

‘Mama! Dearest, darling! he cried, Alinging himself on her again and hugging her, as though seeing her smile had made him realize for the first time what had happened. “You don't want that on,' he said, taking off her hat. And seeing her afresh, as it were, without her hat, he fell to kissing her again.

‘But what did you think about me? You didn't think I was dead, did you?' 'I never believed it.'

You didn't believe it, my precious ?' 'Iknew, I knew!' he said, repeating his favourite phrase, and seizing the hand that was stroking his hair, he pressed the palm to his mouth and covered it with kisses.


Meanwhile Vassily Lukich, who had not at first understood who this lady was, having come to the house only after her departure, realized from the conversation that it was no other person than the mother who had left her husband, and could not make up his mind whether to go in or to inform Karenin. Reflecting finally that it was his duty to get Seriozha up at the hour fixed, and that it was therefore not his business to consider who was sitting there – the boy's mother or any one else – but that he must do his duty, he finished dressing. walked over to the door and opened it.

But the embraces of mother and child, the sound of their voices and what they were saying, made him change his mind. He shook his head, and with a sigh closed the door again. 'I'll wait another ten minutes,' he said to himself, clearing his throat and wiping away tears

In the meantime a great commotion was going on in the servants' quarters. They all knew that the mistress had come, that Kapitonich had let her in, and that she was now in the nursery. But the master was in the habit of going to the nursery before nine, and they all realized that a meeting between husband and wife was inconceivable and must be prevented. Korney, the valet, went down to the hall-porter's room to find out who had let her in, and why, and hearing that it was Kapitonich who had done so he gave the old man a talking-to. The hallporter maintained a dogged silence but when Korney told him he deserved to be dismissed Kapitonich darted up to him and waving his hands in Korney's face burst out:

"Oh no, you'd never have let her in! Ten years' service, and nothing but kindness from her, and you'd have gone up and shown her the door! You know which side your bread's buttered on, don't you? Why not mind your own business instead of robbing master of his fur coats!'

'Old fool!' said Korney contemptuously, and he turned to the nurse who was just coming in. What do you think, Maria Yefimovna? He lets her in without a word to anyone,' Korney said, addressing her. 'Alexei Alexandrovich will be up directly - and go into the nursery.

'Oh dear, oh dear, a fine how-d’you-do!' exclaimed the nurse. 'You must detain the master somehow or other, Korney Vassilich, while I run and get her out of the way. A fine how-d'you-do!'

When the nurse entered, Seriozha was telling his mother how he and Nadinka had fallen down a hill and rolled over and over, turning three somersaults. She was listening to the sound of his voice, watching his face and the play of his features, touching his hand, but she did not follow what he was saying. She must go, she must leave him - that was the only thought that possessed her heart and mind. She heard Vassily Lukich's step as he came to the door and coughed; then the footsteps of the nurse coming into the room; but she sat as though turned to stone, unable to speak or rise.

'Madam, dearie!' began the nurse, going up to Anna and kissing her hands and shoulders. 'The Lord has brought joy indeed to our birthday-boy! And you haven't changed one bit.'

'Why, nurse darling, I did not know you were in the house,' said Anna, rousing herself for a moment.

'I don't live here. I am living with my daughter. I came to wish him many happy returns, Anna Arkadyevna, dear!'

The nurse suddenly burst into tears, and began kissing her hand again.

Seriozha, beaming and smiling, holding his mother by one hand and his nurse by the other, began to stamp his little bare feet on the rug, in ecstasy at his beloved nurse's tenderness for his mother.

'Mama! She often comes to see me, and when she comes ...' he was beginning, but he stopped short, noticing that the nurse was saying something in a whisper to his mother, and that in his mother's face there was a look of dread and something like shame, which was so strangely unbecoming to her.

She went up to him. 'My darling!' she said.

She could not say good-bye, but the expression on her face said it, and he understood. 'My precious little Kootik!' she murmured, calling him by the pet name she had used when he was a baby, 'you won't forget me? You ...' but she could say no more.

How many times afterwards did she think of all the things she might have said! But now she did not know what to say, and was unable to speak. But Seriozha understood all she wanted to say to him. He understood that she was unhappy, and that she loved him. He even understood what it was the nurse had whispered. He had caught the words 'regularly at nine o'clock', and he understood that they referred to his father, and that his mother and father must not meet. All this he understood, but one thing he could not understand: why there should be a look of dread and shame in her face. She could not have done anything wrong, but she was afraid and ashamed of something. He wanted to ask a question that would set his doubts at rest, but he did not dare: he saw that she was suffering, and he felt for her. He clung to her in silence and whispered, 'Don't go away. He won't come just yet.

His mother held him away from her a little, to look into his face and see whether he understood the meaning of what he was saying and by his frightened expression she read not only that he was speaks ing of his father but was, as it were, asking her what he ought to think about his father.

'Seriozha, my darling,' she said. “You must love him. He's better and kinder than I am, and I have been wicked to him. When you are grown up you will understand.'

'No one is better than you!' he cried in despair through his tears, and, clutching her by the shoulders, he hugged her with all his might, his arms trembling with the effort.

'My precious, my little one!' murmured Anna and burst into tears, crying in the same thin childlike way as he did.

At that moment the door opened, and Vassily Lukich entered. Steps were heard approaching the other door, and in a scared whisper the nurse exclaimed, 'He's coming!' and handed Anna her hat.

Seriozha sank back on the bed and began to sob, hiding his face in his hands. Anna moved his hands, once more kissed his wet face, and then walked rapidly towards the door. Karenin was just coming in. Seeing her, he stopped short and bowed his head.

Though she had declared but a moment ago that he was better and kinder than she, after a swift glance which took in his whole figure down to the minutest detail, she was seized by a feeling of loathing and hatred for him and jealousy over her son. She hurriedly put down her veil and, quickening her steps, almost ran out of the room.

She had not bad time to undo, and so carried back with her, the parcel of toys she had chosen so sadly and with so much love the day before.



Agatha Mihalovna went out on tiptoe. The nurse pulled down the blind, chased the flies from under the muslin canopy of the cot and a bumble-bee buzzing against the window-pane, and sat down, waving a withered birch branch over mother and child.

“How hot it is! If the Lord would only send a drop of rain, she said.

'Yes, yes,!' was all Kitty answered, rocking to and fro and tenderly squeezing the plump little arm, which looked as if a piece of thread had been tied tightly round the wrist on Mitya still waved feebly as he opened and shut his eyes. This little arm agitated Kitty: she longed to kiss the little hand but was afraid to, for fear of waking the baby. At last the arm ceased waving and the eyes closed. Only from time to time, as he went on sucking, the baby lifted long curly lashes and gazed at its mother with dewy eyes that looked black in the dim light. The nurse stopped fanning them and began to doze off. From upstairs came the peal of the old prince's voice and Katavasov's boisterous laughter.

‘They seem all right without me,' thought Kitty. ‘But all the same it is provoking that Kostya's not back yet. He must have gone to the apiary again. Though it's a pity he's there so often, still I'm glad. It distracts his mind. He's altogether happier and better now than he was in the spring. He used to be so gloomy and worried that I felt alarmed about him. What a funny man he is!' she whispered, smiling.

She knew what was tormenting her husband. It was his want of faith. Although, if she had been asked whether she thought there could be no salvation for him in the future life unless he were a believer, she would have been compelled to agree, yet his unbelief did not make her unhappy; and she, who accepted the doctrine that there could be no salvation for an unbeliever, and to whom her husband’s soul was dearer than anything in the world, smiled when she thought of his scepticism and called him funny.

'Why does he keep on reading those philosophy books of his all the year round?' she wondered. 'If it's all written in those books, he can understand them. If what they say is all wrong, why read them> He says himself that he would like to believe. Then why doesn't he? It must be because he thinks too much. And he thinks too much because of being solitary. He's always alone, always. He can't talk about it all to us. He will be glad of these visitors, I think, especially Katavasov. He likes arguing with him,' she reflected, and immediately turned her mind to the problem of where to put Katavasov – should he have a separate room or share with Koznyshev? And here a thought suddenly struck her that made her start with agitation and even disturb Mitya, who gave her a severe look in consequence. 'I don't believe the laundry-woman has brought the washing back yet, and all the best sheets are in use. If I don't see to it, Agatha Mihalovna will give Sergei Ivanich the wrong sheets!' and the very idea of this sent the blood rushing to Kitty's face.

'Yes, I must see about it,' she decided, and, returning to her former train of thought, she remembered that there was something important, some spiritual question, that she had not yet got to the bottom of, and tried to recollect what it was. 'Oh yes, Kostya, an unbeliever,' she remembered again with a smile.

'Well, and if he is? I would rather have him that than see him like Madame Stahl, or as I wanted to be in those days abroad. No, he would never sham anything.'

And a recent instance of his goodness came vividly to her mind. A fortnight ago Dolly had received a penitent letter from her husband, imploring her to save his honour by selling her estate to pay his debts. Dolly had been in despair: she detested her husband, despised him, was sorry for him, made up her mind to refuse and to divorce him, but ended by agreeing to dispose of part of the estate. Here Kitty, with an involuntary smile of tenderness, recalled the shamefaced way her own husband had gone about his repeated awkward attempts to approach the subject, and how at length, having thought of the one means of helping Dolly without wounding her pride, he had suggested to Kitty that she should make over to her sister the portion of the estate that belonged to her - a device that had never occurred to Kitty.

'He an unbeliever indeed! With his heart, his dread of hurting anyone's feelings, even a child's! With him it's everything for others, nothing for himself. Sergei Ivanich quite seems to think it's Kostya's duty to be his steward. And it's the same with his sister. Now he has Dolly and her children on his hands as well. And then there are all these peasants who come to him every day, as if it were his business to be at their service. Yes, you cannot do better than try to be like your father,' she murmured, handing Mitya over to the nurse and touching his little cheek with her lips.



Ever since, by his beloved brother's deathbed, Levin had for the first time looked at the questions of life and death in the light of his new convictions, as he called them, which between the ages of twenty and thirty-four had imperceptibly replaced the beliefs of his childhood and youth, he had been stricken with horror, not so much at death, as at life, without the least conception of its origin, its purpose, its reason, its nature. The organism, its decay, the indestructibility of matter, the law of the conservation of energy, evolution, were the terms that had superseded those of his early faith. These terms and the theories associated with them were very useful for intellectual purposes. But they gave no guidance for life, and Levin suddenly felt like a person who has exchanged his warm fur coat for a muslin garment, and out in the frost for the first time is immediately convinced, not by arguments but with his whole being that he is as good as naked and must inevitably perish miserably.

From that time, though he did not realize it and continued to live as before, Levin had never lost this sense of terror at his lack of knowledge.

He was vaguely conscious, too, that what he called his new convictions were not merely ignorance but that they were part of a whole order of ideas which actually stood in the way of the knowledge he needed.

In the early days of his marriage his new joys and responsibilities had completely stifled these thoughts; but latterly, while he was staying in Moscow after his wife's confinement, with nothing to do, the question that clamoured for solution had more and more often, more and more insistently, haunted Levin's mind.

For him the problem was this: 'If I do not accept the answers Christianity gives to the questions of my life, what answers do I accept?' And in the whole arsenal of his convictions he failed to find not only any kind of answer but anything resembling an answer. He was in the position of a man seeking food in a toyshop or at a gunsmith's.

Instinctively, unconsciously, in every book he read, in every conversation, in every person he met, he was on the look-out for their connexion with the questions that absorbed him and for a solution of these questions.

What astounded and upset him most was that the majority of men of his circle and age who had, like himself, substituted science for religion, saw nothing to be distressed about and were perfectly content and happy. So that, apart from the principal problem, Levin was tormented by other questions too. Were these people sincere? he asked himself. Were they not counterfeiting? Or was it that they got from science some different, clearer answer than he did to the problems he was concerned with? And he took to studying diligently both the opinions of those people and the books which treated of these scientific explanations.

One thing he had discovered since these questions had begun to occupy his mind - namely, that he had been mistaken in supposing with his contemporaries at the university that religion had outlived its day and was now practically non-existent. The best people he knew were all believers: the old prince, Lvov, whom he liked so much, his brother Koznyshev, and all the women. His wife had a childlike faith just like his as a small boy, and ninety-nine out of a hundred of the Russian people, all the working-people whose lives inspired him with the greatest respect, believed.

Another thing was that, after reading a great many scientific books, he became convinced that the men who shared his views got no more out of their convictions than he did. Far from explaining the problems without a solution to which he felt he could not live, they set them aside and took up others of no interest to him, such as, for instance, the evolution of organisms, a mechanical explanation of the soul, and so forth.

Moreover, at the time of his wife's confinement an extraordinary thing had happened to him. He, an unbeliever, had prayed, and prayed with sincere faith. But that moment had passed, and he could not allot any place in his life to the state of mind he had been in then.

He could not admit that at that moment he had known the truth, and was now in error, for as soon as he began to reflect on it calmly it all fell to pieces. Nor could he admit that he had been mistaken then, for he valued his spiritual condition then and to attribute it to weakness would be to defile those moments. He was wretchedly divided against himself, and strained all his mental powers to put himself right.


There were days when these doubts fretted and harassed him more than others, but they never left him entirely. He read and thought, and the more he read and the more he thought the farther he felt from the goal he was pursuing.

During the latter part of his stay in Moscow, and after his return to the country, he became convinced that he would get no answer from the materialists, and so he went back to Plato, Spinoza, Kant, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, the philosophers who gave a non-materialistic explanation of life.

Their ideas seemed to him fruitful while he was reading or was himself devising arguments to refute other theories, especially those of the materialists; but directly he began to read or himself devise solutions to life's problems, the same thing occurred every time. As long as he followed the fixed definitions given to such vague terms as spirit, will, freedom, substance, deliberately entering the verbal trap set for him by the philosophers, or by himself, he seemed to comprehend something. But he had only to forget the artificial train of reasoning, and to turn from real life to what had satisfied him so long as he kept to the given chain of argument, for the whole artificial edifice to tumble down like a house of cards, and it became evident that the edifice had been constructed of those same words transposed and regardless of something in life more important than reason.

When reading Schopenhauer one day he substituted the word love for the word will, and for a day or two this new philosophy cheered him, so long as he did not wander from it; but it, too, collapsed when he reviewed it in relation to real life, and proved to be a muslin garment with no warmth in it.

His brother Koznyshev advised him to read the theological works of Khomyakov. Levin read the second volume of Khomyakov's works and, in spite of the polemical, elegant, brilliant style which at first repelled him, he was impressed by its teaching about the church. He was struck in the beginning by the idea that apprehension of divine truth is not given to man in isolation but to the totality of men united by love – the Church. The thought rejoiced him of how much easier it was to believe in an existing, living Church embracing all the beliefs of men and having God at its head - a Church therefore holy and infallible – and from it to accept belief in God, the Creation, the Fall and Redemption, than to begin with some distant, mysterious God, the Creation, and so on. But afterwards, when he read a history of the Church by a Catholic writer, and another by a Greek Orthodox writer, and saw that the two Churches, in their very conception infallible, each repudiated the other, he became disenchanted with Khomyakov's doctrine of the Church, and this structure fell to pieces just as the philosophers' edifices had done.

All that spring he was not himself, and experienced some terrible moments.

'I cannot live without knowing what I am and why I am here. And that I can't know, so therefore I can't live,' Levin would say to himself.

'In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space an organic cell stands out, will hold together awhile and then burst, and that cell is Me.'

This was an agonizing fallacy, but it was the sole, the supreme result of centuries of human thought in that direction.

It was the ultimate belief on which all the systems of thought elaborated by the human mind in almost all their ramifications were based. It was the dominant conviction, and of all other explanations Levin had unconsciously chosen it, without knowing when or how, as being at any rate the clearest, and made it his own.

But it was not only a fallacy, it was the cruel jest of some evil power, some evil, inimical power, to which one could not submit.

He must escape from this power. And each man held the means of escape in his own hands. An end must be put to this dependence on evil. And there was one means - death.

And Levin, a happy father and husband, in perfect health, was several times so near suicide that he had to hide a rope lest he be tempted to hang himself, and would not go out with a gun for fear of shooting himself.

But Levin did not shoot himself, and did not hang himself: and he went on living.



When Levin puzzled over what he was and what he was living for, he could find no answer and fell into despair; but when he left off worrying about the problem of his existence he seemed to know both what he was and for what he was living, for he acted and lived resolutely and unfalteringly. Indeed, latterly he was far more decided and unfaltering than ever before.

On his return to the country at the beginning of June, he returned also to his customary pursuits. The management of the estate, his relations with the peasants and the neighbouring gentry, the care of his household, and looking after his sister's and brother's affairs, of which he had the direction, his relations with his wife and her relatives, solicitude for the baby, and the new hobby of beekeeping which he had taken up with enthusiasm that spring, absorbed all his time.

These things occupied him now, not because he justified them to himself by any sort of general principles, as he had done in former days; on the contrary, disenchanted as he was on the one hand by the failure of his earlier efforts for the general welfare, and too much occupied on the other with his own thoughts and the mass of business with which he was burdened from all sides, he had completely abandoned all considerations of public weal and busied himself with all this work for no other reason than because it seemed to him that he must do what he was doing - that he could not do otherwise.

Formerly (and this had been so almost from childhood, increasing as be reached full maturity), whenever he had tried to do anything for the general good, for the good of humanity, for Russia, for the province, for the village as a whole, he had observed that the idea of it had been pleasant but the activity it entailed had always been incoherent. There had never been full conviction of its absolute necessity, and the work itself, from at first appearing so great, had grown less and less, till it vanished into nothing. But now, since his marriage, when he had begun to confine himself more and more to living for himself, though he no longer found any delight at the thought of the work he was doing, he felt confident of its usefulness, saw that it succeeded far better than in the old days, and that it was always growing instead of getting smaller. Now, involuntarily as it were, he cut deeper and deeper into the soil, so that like a ploughshare he could not be drawn out without turning up the furrow.

For his family to live as his father and forefathers had been accustomed to live – that is, at the same cultural level – and so to bring up his children, was an undoubted necessity. It was just as necessary as eating when one was hungry. And for that, just as a meal has to be cooked, so Pokrovskoe must be farmed in such a manner as to yield an income. As surely as one must pay one's debts, so surely was it necessary to keep the patrimony in such a condition that when his son inherited it he would thank his father, as Levin had thanked his grandfather for all he had built and planted. And to do this he must not lease out the land but must farm it himself, must breed cattle, manure the fields, and plant woods.

It was as impossible not to look after the interests of his brother and sister, and of all the peasants who came to him for advice and were accustomed to do so, as it is impossible to fling down a child one is carrying in one's arms. Then he had to see to the comforts of his sister-in-law and her children, whom he had invited to stay with them, and of his wife and baby, and it was impossible not to spend at least a small portion of each day with them.

And all this, together with shooting and his new hobby of beekeeping, filled up that life of his which seemed to have no meaning at all when he began to think about it.

But besides knowing thoroughly what it was he had to do, Levin knew in just the same way how he had to do it all, and which of any two matters was the more important.

He knew he must hire labourers as cheaply as possible; but to take men in bond for less than they were worth by advancing them money, he must not do, though this would be very profitable. There was no harm in selling peasants straw in times of shortage, even though he felt sorry for them; but the inn and the tavern must be abolished, even though they were a source of income. The stealing of timber must be punished as severely as possible, but he would exact no fines if the peasants drove their cattle on to his fields, and though it riled the watchmen and made the peasants not afraid to graze their cattle on his land, the strayed cattle must not be impounded.

He must make a loan to Piotr to get him out of the claws of a moneylender who was charging him ten per cent a month; but he could not let off peasants who did not pay their rent, nor let them fall into arrears. The bailiff was not to be excused for failing to have the small meadow mown and wasting the grass; but the two hundred acres which had been planted with young trees must not be mown at all. No mercy must be shown a labourer who went home in a busy season because his father had died - sorry as Levin might be for the man: part of his pay must be deducted for those costly months of idleness; but old house-servants who were of no use for anything must have their monthly allowance.

Levin knew, too, that when he got home he must first of all go to his wife, who was unwell, and that the peasants who had been waiting three hours to see him could wait a little longer; yet he knew that he must forgo the pleasure of hiving a swarm and let the old beekeeper do it without him, while he went to talk to the peasants who had come after him to the apiary.

Whether he was acting rightly or wrongly he did not know - indeed, far from laying down the law, he now avoided talking or thinking about it.

Deliberation led to doubts and prevented him from seeing what he ought and ought not to do. But when he did not think, but just lived, he never ceased to be aware of the presence in his soul of an infallible judge who decided which of two possible courses of action was the better and which the worse, and instantly let him know if he did what he should not.

So he lived, not knowing and not seeing any chance of knowing what he was and for what purpose he had been placed in the world. He was tormented by this ignorance to the extent of fearing suicide, yet at the same time he was resolutely cutting his own individual and definite path through life.



The day Koznyshev arrived at Pokrovskoe was one of Levin's most wretched days.

It was the most pressingly busy season of the year, when an extraordinary tension of self-sacrificing labour manifests itself among the whole peasantry, quite unknown in any other conditions of life, and which would be highly esteemed if the people who exhibited this quality prized it themselves, and if it were not repeated every year, and if it did not produce such very simple results.

Reaping or binding the rye and oats, carting them, mowing the meadows, reploughing the fallow land, threshing the seed, and sowing the winter corn - all labours that seem simple and commonplace enough; but to get it all done, everyone, from the oldest to the youngest, for those three or four weeks must toil incessantly, three times as hard as usual, living on rye-beer, onions, and black bread, threshing and carting the sheaves at night, and not giving more than two or three hours in the twenty-four to sleep. And every year this is done all over Russia.

Having lived the greater part of his life in the country and in close contact with the peasants, Levin always felt infected by this general quickening of energy at this busy time.

In the early morning he rode out to where the first rye was being sown, then to see the oats carted and stacked, and returning home when his wife and sister-in-law were getting up he drank his coffee with them, and afterwards departed on foot to the out-farm, where the new threshing-machine was to be started to thresh the seed-corn.

All that day, while talking to the bailiff and the peasants, at home with his wife, with Dolly, her children, and his father-in-law, Levin's thoughts were busy with the one and only subject, outside his farming, that interested him at this time, and in everything he sought a bearing on his questions: 'What am I? Where am I? And why am I here?'

Standing in the cool of the newly-thatched barn, with its wattled walls of hazel which had not yet shed its fragrant leaves pressed against the freshly stripped aspens of the joists under the thatch, he gazed now through the open doorway in which the dry, bitter chaff-dust rushed and whirled at the grass round the threshing-floor in the hot sunshine and at the fresh straw that had just been brought in from the shed, now at the parti-coloured heads of the white-breasted swallows that flew chirping in under the roof and, fluttering their wings, paused in the doorway, now at the peasants bustling about in the dark and dusty interior; and strange thoughts came into his head.

'What is all this being done for?' he wondered. 'Why am I standing here, making them work? Why are they all bustling about, trying so hard to show me their zeal? Why is my old friend Matriona toiling so? (I remember being her doctor when the beam fell on her in the fire),' he thought, looking at a haggard old woman who was raking up the grain, stepping painfully with her bare, sun-blackened feet over the rough, uneven barn-floor. 'She recovered then, but to-day or to-morrow, or in ten years' time, she will be dead and buried and nothing will be left of her, or of that pretty girl in the red skirt, husking corn with such nimble, dexterous grace. They'll bury her, and this piebald gelding, and very soon too,” he reflected, gazing at the horse breathing heavily through dilated nostrils, its belly rising and falling, as it trod the slanting wheel that turned under it. 'They will carry it off, and Fiodr, who is feeding the machine, his curly beard full of chaff and his shirt torn on his white shoulder. But now he loosens the sheaves and gives directions, shouts at the women, and with a swift movement puts the strap right on the fly-wheel. And what's more, not only they but I, too, shall be buried, and nothing will be left. What is it all for?'

He thought this, and at the same time looked at his watch to reckon how much they could thresh in an hour. He had to know that so as to set them their day's task accordingly.

‘They've been at it nearly an hour, and only just started on the third rick,' he thought. He walked over to the man who was feeding the machine, and, shouting above the din, told him to feed it more evenly. 'You put in too much at a time, Fiodr! It gets jammed, you see, and doesn't go well. Feed it in evenly!'

Fiodr, black with the dust that stuck to his perspiring face, shouted something in reply but still did not do as Levin wanted him to.

Levin went up to the drum, motioned Fiodr aside and himself began feeding the machine.

He worked on until the peasants' dinner-hour, which was not long in coming, and then, in company with Fiodr, left the barn and began chatting, stopping beside a neat yellow stack of rye laid on the threshing-floor for seed.

Fiodr came from a distant village, the very one where Levin had once let land to be worked cooperatively. At present a former house-porter had it.

Levin got talking with Fiodr about this land and asked if Platon, a well-to-do and worthy peasant belonging to the same village, might not take it for the coming year.

'It's a high rent. It wouldn't pay Platon, Constantine Dmitrich, answered the peasant, picking the ears of rye off the front of his damp shirt.

'Then how does Kirilov make it pay?'

'Oh, Mityuka' (as he contemptuously called the house-porter), ‘he could make anything pay! He'll squeeze a fellow until he gets what he wants. He won't spare a Christian. But Uncle Fokanich' (so he called the old peasant Platon), ‘do you suppose he'd flay the skin off a man? He'll give credit, and sometimes he'll let a man off. And go short himself, too. He's that sort of person.'

‘But why should he let anyone off ?

‘Oh well, of course, folks are different. One man lives for his own wants and nothing else – take Mityuka, who only thinks of stuffing his belly - but Fokanich is an upright old man. He thinks of his soul. He does not forget God.'

'Not forget God? And how does he live for his soul?' Levin almost shouted.

'Why, that's plain enough: it's living rightly, in God's way. Folks are all different, you see. Take yourself, now, you wouldn't wrong a man either ...'

'Yes, yes, good-bye!' stammered Levin, deeply agitated, and, turning away, he took his stick and walked rapidly towards the house.

A novel joyous feeling enveloped Levin. At the peasant's words about Platon living for his soul, rightly, in God's way, dim but important thoughts crowded into his mind, as if they had broken loose from some place where they had been locked up, and all rushing forward towards one goal, whirled in his head, blinding him with their light.



Levin strode along the highroad, attending not so much to his thoughts (he could not yet disentangle them) as to a mental condition he had never known before.

The peasant's words had the effect of an electric spark, suddenly transforming and welding into one a whole series of disjointed, impotent, separate ideas that had never ceased to occupy his mind. They had been in his mind, though he had been unaware of it, even while he was talking to Fiodr about letting the land. .

He felt something new in his soul and took a delight in probing it, not yet knowing what this new something was.

'Not to live for one's own needs, but for God! For what God? For God. And could anything be more senseless than what he said? He said we must not live for our own wants - that it, we must not live for what we understand, what we are attracted by, what we desire, but must live for something incomprehensible, for God, whom no one can know or define. Well? Didn't I understand those senseless words of Fiodr's? And understanding them, did I doubt the truth of them? Did I think them stupid, obscure, unsound?

'No, I understood them just as he understands them: understood fully and more clearly than I understand anything in life; and never in my life have I doubted them, nor could doubt them. And not only I but everyone – the whole world – understands nothing but this one thing fully: about this alone men have no doubt and are always agreed.

‘Fiodr says that Kirilov lives for his belly. That is intelligible and rational. All of us as rational beings can't do anything else but live for our bellies. And all of a sudden this same Fiodr declares that it is wrong to live for one's belly; we must live for truth, for God, and a hint is enough to make me understand what he means! And I and millions of men, men who lived centuries ago and men living now - peasants, the poor in spirit and the sages, those who have thought and written about it, in their obscure words saying the same thing - we are all agreed on this one point: what it is we should live for and what is good. The only knowledge I and all men possess that is firm, incontestable, and clear is here, and it cannot be explained by reason - this knowledge is outside the sphere of reason: it has no causes and can have no effects.

'If goodness has a cause, it is no longer goodness; if it has consequences - a reward – it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.

'It is just this that I know, and that we all know.

'And I sought for miracles - complained that I did not see a miracle which would convince me. But here is a miracle, the one possible, everlasting miracle, surrounding me on all sides, and I never noticed it! 'What could be a greater miracle than that?

Can I have found the solution to everything? Are my sufferings really at an end?' thought Levin, striding along the dusty road, oblivious of heat and fatigue, filled with a feeling of relief after his long travail. The sensation was so joyous that it seemed almost incredible. He was breathless with emotion and, incapable of going farther, left the road and turned into the forest to sit down on the uncut grass in the shade of the aspens. Taking off his hat from his perspiring head, he stretched himself out, leaning on his elbow in the lush, feathery, woodland grass.

'Yes, I must bethink myself and consider it carefully,' he thought, gazing intently at the untrodden grass before him, and following the movements of a little green beetle crawling up a stalk of couch-grass and hindered in its ascent by a leaf of goutwort. “Let me go back to the beginning,' he said to himself, bending the leaf out of the beetle's way and twisting another blade of grass for it to cross over on to. 'What makes me so happy? What have I discovered?

'I used to say that in my body, that in the body of this grass and of this beetle (there, it didn't want to go on to the other blade of grass – it has spread its wings and flown away) a transformation of matter takes place in conformity with certain physical, chemical, and physiological laws. And in all of us, including these aspens and the clouds and the misty patches in the sky, evolution is proceeding. Evolution from what? Into what? An unending evolution and struggle? ... As if there could be any sort of tendency and struggle in the infinite! And I was surprised that in spite of the utmost efforts of my reason in that direction I could not discover the meaning of life, the meaning of my own impulses and yearnings. But the meaning of my impulses is so clear that they form the very foundation of my existence, and I marvelled and rejoiced when the peasant put it into words for me: to live for God, for my soul.

'I have discovered nothing. I have simply opened my eyes to what I knew. I have come to the recognition of that Power that not only in the past gave me life but now too gives me life. I have been set free from fallacy, I have found the Master.'

And he briefly went over the whole progress of his thoughts during the last two years, beginning with the plain confronting of death at the sight of his beloved brother lying hopelessly ill.

Then, for the first time, realizing that for every man, and himself too, there was nothing ahead but suffering, death, eternal oblivion, he had decided that to live under such conditions was impossible - he must either find an explanation to the problem of existence which would make life seem something other than the cruel irony of a malevolent spirit, or he must shoot himself.

But he had done neither the one nor the other: he had gone on living, thinking and feeling, had even at that very time married, had experienced many joys and been happy whenever he was not pondering on the meaning of his life.

What did that show? It showed that he had been living rightly, but thinking wrongly.

He had been living (without being aware of it) on those spiritual truths that he had imbibed with his mother's milk, yet in thinking he had not only refused to acknowledge these truths but had studiously ignored them.

Now it was clear to him that he could only live by virtue of the beliefs in which he had been brought up.

'What should I have been, and how should I have spent my life had it not been for those beliefs, had I not known that one must live for God and not for one's own needs? I should have robbed, lied, murdered. Nothing of what makes the chief happiness of my life would ever have existed for me.' And try as he would he was unable to picture to himself the brutal creature he would have been if he had not known what he was living for.

'I was in search of an answer to my question. But reason could not give an answer to my question - reason is incommensurable with the problem. The answer has been given me by life itself, through my knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. And this knowledge I did not acquire in any way: it was given to me as it is to everybody - given, because I could not have got it from anywhere.

'Where did I get it from? Would reason ever have proved to me that I must love my neighbour instead of strangling him? I was told that in my childhood, and I believed it gladly, for they told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason. Reason discovered the struggle for existence, and the law demanding that I should strangle all who hinder the satisfaction of my desires. That is the deduction of reason. But loving one's neighbour reason could never discover, because it's unreasonable.

'Yes, pride,' he said to himself, rolling over on his stomach and beginning to tie blades of grass into knots, trying not to break them.

'And not merely pride of intellect, but folly of intellect! And most of all - dishonesty of mind, sheer dishonesty. Sheer intellectual fraud, he repeated.



And Levin remembered a recent scene between Dolly and her children. The children, left to themselves, had started making raspberry jam over lighted candles, and pouring jets of milk into each other's mouths. Their mother catching them at these antics had tried in front of Levin to impress on them that they were wasting what had cost their elders a large amount of labour, undertaken for their sakes, that if they broke the cups they would have nothing to drink their tea out of, and that if they spilt the milk they would have nothing to eat, and die of hunger.

And Levin had been struck by the passive, weary scepticism with which the children listened to these remarks from their mother. They were only sorry to have their interesting game interrupted, and did not believe a word of what their mother was saying. They could not believe it indeed, because they could not take in the magnitude of all they habitually enjoyed, and so could not conceive that what they were destroying was the very thing they lived by.

'That all happens by itself,' they thought. 'And there's nothing interesting or important about it, because those things always have been and always will be. And it's always the same. We don't need to worry, it's all done for us. We want to invent something new of our own. It was quite a good idea to put raspberries in a cup and cook them over a candle, and squirt milk into each other's mouths like fountains. That was fun, and something new, and not a bit worse than drinking out of cups.

'Don't we - didn't I? - do just the same, searching by the aid of reason to discover the significance of the forces of nature and the purpose of human life?' he thought.

‘And don't all the theories of philosophy do the same, trying by the path of thought, which is strange and not natural to man, to bring him to a knowledge of what he has known long ago, and knows so surely that without it he could not live? Is it not plainly evident in the development of every philosopher's theory that he knows beforehand, just as positively as the peasant Fiodr and not a whit more clearly than he, the real meaning of life, and is simply trying by a dubious intellectual process to come back to what everyone knows?

‘Supposing now that the children were left to get things for themselves, make the cups, milk the cows, and so on – would they play pranks? No, they would starve to death! Well then, give us over to our passions and thoughts, without any idea of the one God, of the Creator, or without any idea of what is right, any explanation of moral evil!

“Just try to build up anything without those conceptions!

'We destroy because we have had our fill spiritually. Exactly like the children!

'Whence comes the joyful knowledge I have in common with the peasant, that alone gives me peace of mind? Where did I get it?

'Here am I, a Christian, brought up in the knowledge of God, brimful of the spiritual blessings Christianity has given me, overflowing with them and living on these blessings, and like the children I don't understand, and destroy - or rather, try to destroy that by which I live. But directly an important moment in life comes, like for children when they are cold and hungry, I run to Him, and even less than the children when their mother scolds them for their childish mischief do I feel that my childish essays at wanton madness should be reckoned against me.

'Yes, what I know, I know not by my reason but because it has been given to me, revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by my faith in the chief things which the Church proclaims.

'The Church? The Church!' repeated Levin to himself. He rolled over on his other side and, leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing into the distance at a herd of cattle going down to the farther bank of the river.

But can I believe in all the Church professes?' he asked in order to test himself and bring up everything that could destroy his present sense of security. He purposely made himself think of those teachings of the Church which had always seemed to him strange and had most alienated him. 'The Creation? Yes, but how did I explain existence? By existence? By nothing? ... The devil and sin? And how do I explain evil? ... The Atonement? ...

'But I know nothing, nothing, and cannot know other than what I have been told with the rest.'

And it seemed to him now that there was not a single article of faith which could disturb the main thing - belief in God, in goodness, as the one goal of man's destiny.

At the back of every article of faith of the Church could be put belief in serving truth rather than one's personal needs. And each of these dogmas not only did not violate that creed but was essential for the fulfilment of the greatest of miracles, continually manifest upon earth – the miracle that made it possible for the world with its millions of individual human beings, sages and simpletons, children and old men, everyone, peasants, Lvov, Kitty, beggars and kings, to comprehend with certainty one and the same truth and live that life of the spirit, the only life that is worth living and which alone we prize.

Lying on his back, he was now gazing high up into the cloudless sky. 'Do I not know that that is infinite space, and not a rounded vault? But however much I screw up my eyes and strain my sight I cannot see it except as round and circumscribed, and in spite of my knowing about infinite space I am incontestably right when I see a firm blue vault, far more right than when I strain my eyes to see beyond it.'

Levin ceased thinking and, as it were, only hearkened to mystic voices that seemed to be joyfully and earnestly conferring among themselves.

'Can this be faith?' he wondered, afraid to believe in his happiness. 'My God, I thank Thee!' he breathed, gulping down the sobs that rose within him and with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his eyes.



Levin looked before him and saw a herd of cattle, then he caught sight of his trap with Raven in the shafts, and the coachman, who drove up to the herd and spoke to the herdsman. After that, close by, ne heard the sound of wheels and the snorting of the sleek horse; but he was so engrossed in his thoughts that he did not even wonder why the coachman was coming towards him, until the latter had driven up quite near and called:

'The mistress sent me! Your brother has come, and another gentleman with him!'

Levin got into the trap and took the reins.

He felt as though he had just awakened from a deep sleep and it took him a long while to collect his faculties. He stared at the sleek horse, flecked with lather between its haunches and on its neck where the harness rubbed, stared at Ivan the coachman sitting beside him, and remembered that he had been expecting his brother and that his wife was probably worried at his long absence, and tried to guess who the visitor could be who had come with his brother. And his brother, his wife, and the unknown visitor appeared to him in a different light now. He fancied now that his relations with all men would be different.

"With my brother there will be none of that aloofness there always used to be between us – there will be no more disputes; with Kitty no more quarrels; to the visitor, whoever he may be, I shall be friendly and nice; and with the servants, with Ivan, it will all be different.'

Tightly holding in the good horse, which was snorting impatiently and pulling at the reins, Levin looked round at Ivan sitting beside him not knowing what to do with his idle hands and continually pushing down his shirt as the wind puffed it out. Levin tried to think of something to say to start a conversation with him. He was about to remark that Ivan had pulled the saddle-girth too high, but that would have sounded like a reproof, and Levin longed for a warm, friendly exchange.

‘Bear to the right, sir, there's a stump there,' said the coachman, pulling the rein Levin held.

'Have the goodness to leave it alone, and don't give me lessons!' said Levin, annoyed at the coachman's interference. Such interference always made him angry, and as he spoke he could not help thinking sorrowfully how mistaken had been his conclusion that his new spiritual condition could all of a sudden alter his character once in contact with reality.

When they were still a quarter of a mile from the house Levin saw Grisha and Tanya running to meet him.

'Uncle Kostya! Mama's coming, and grandpapa, and Sergei Ivanich, and another man!' they cried, clambering into the trap.

'Who is it?'

'An awfully dreadful man! And he goes like this with his arms, said Tanya, standing up in the trap and imitating Katavasov.

'Is he old or young?' asked Levin laughing, as Tanya's performance reminded him of someone, he did not know whom. 'I hope it's not some tiresome person!' he thought.

As soon as they were round the bend in the road and saw the little party coming towards them, Levin recognized Katavasov in a straw hat, walking along swinging his arms just as Tanya had shown him.

Katavasov was very fond of discussing metaphysics, his notions of which were acquired from natural science writers who had never studied philosophy, and during his last stay in Moscow Levin had had many arguments with him.

The first thing Levin recalled as he saw him was one occasion when Katavasov had obviously considered that he came off victorious.

‘But this time I will on no account argue or lightly express my opinions,' he thought.

Getting out of the trap, he exchanged greetings with his brother and Katavasov, and asked where Kitty was.

'She has taken Mitya to the woods, to sleep there, because it is so hot in the house,' said Dolly.

Levin had always advised his wife against taking the baby into the woods, thinking it unsafe, and he was not pleased to hear this news.

'She carries that son of hers about from pillar to post,' said the old prince, with a smile. 'I told her to try putting him in the ice-cellar.'

She meant to come to the apiary. She thought you were there. That's where we're going,' said Dolly.

'Well, and what are you doing?' said Koznyshev, falling behind the rest and walking beside his brother.

'Oh, nothing in particular. Busy as usual with the farm,' Levin replied. “You've come for a good stay, I hope? We have been expecting you for such a long time.'

'Only for about a couple of weeks. There is so much to do in Moscow.'

At these words the brothers' eyes met, and Levin, in spite of the desire he always felt, and now more than ever, to be on affectionate and especially free-and-easy terms with his brother, felt awkward when he looked at him. He dropped his eyes and did not know what to say.

Running over in his mind the subjects that might be agreeable to Koznyshev and keep him off the Serbian war and the Slavonic question, at which he had hinted by alluding to all he had to do in Moscow, Levin began about Koznyshev's book.

'Well, have there been reviews of your book?' he asked. Koznyshev smiled at the premeditation of the question. 'No one is interested in that now, and I least of all,' he replied.

‘Look over there, Darya Alexandrovna! We shall have a shower,' he added, pointing with his umbrella to some white clouds that had made their appearance above the aspens.

And these words were enough to re-establish the old relationship - if not unfriendly, at least cool – between the brothers, which Levin had so much wanted to get away from.

Levin joined Katavasov. 'It was nice of you to make up your mind to come,' he said.

*I've been meaning to for a long while. Now we'll have some talks. and we'll see! Have you read Spencer?'

'I haven't finished him yet,' replied Levin. 'However, I don't think I need him now.'

“How's that? That sounds interesting! Why not?'

'I mean I've finally come to the conclusion that in him and his like I shall never find the solution to the problems that interest me. Now ...

But he was suddenly struck by the serene expression of Katavasov's jolly face, and felt so anxious not to spoil his own exalted mood to which the conversation was obviously damaging that, recollecting his resolution, he broke off. 'But we can talk about that by and by,' he added. “If we're going to the apiary, it's this way - along this little path,' he said, addressing the others too.

Going along the narrow footpath to a little uncut glade bright all down one side with thick clusters of wild pansies with tall dark green tufts of hellebore between them, Levin settled his guests in the deep cool shade of the young aspens, on a bench and some tree stumps specially put there for visitors to the apiary who might be afraid of the bees, while he himself went to the hut to fetch bread, cucumbers, and fresh honey for the whole party.

Trying to move as gently as possible and listening to the bees that hummed past him more and more frequently, he walked along the little path to the hut. As he reached the door a bee got caught in his beard and started buzzing angrily, but he extricated it carefully. Going into the shady passage of the hut, he took down his veil, which hung on a peg on the wall, put it on and, thrusting his hands in his pockets, went into the fenced-in apiary where -ranged in rows and tied with bast to stakes - in the middle of a space where the grass had been mown, stood all the hives he knew so well, the old stocks each with its own history, while along the wattle fence stood the new swarms hived that year. Bees and drones jostled in front of the hives, dancing before his eyes, whirling over the same spot. Between them flew the working bees, making straight for the wood and the flowering lime-trees or returning laden to the hives.

His ears rang with many different sounds – a busy working bee flying swiftly past, a buzzing idle drone, excited sentinel bees guarding their treasure from an enemy and ready to sting. On the farther side of the fence an old man was planing a hoop for a cask, not noticing Levin, who stood still in the middle of the apiary and did not call him.

He was glad of this chance to be alone, to recover from the reality which had already brought low his mood of spiritual elation. He remembered that in quite a short space of time he had lost his temper with Ivan, shown coolness to his brother, and talked thoughtlessly with Katavasov.

'Can it have been only a transitory mood, and will it pass and leave no trace?' he wondered.

But at that very moment, returning to his mood, he felt with joy that something new and important had happened to him. The spiritual peace he had found was still unharmed, though everyday life had shrouded it for a time.

Just as the bees, now circling round him, threatened and distracted his attention, robbing him of complete physical calm and compelling him to shrink to avoid them, so had the petty cares that had beset him from the moment he took his seat in the trap restricted his spiritual freedom; but that lasted only so long as he was in the midst of them. Just as his physical powers remained intact, in spite of the bees, so his newly realized spiritual powers were intact also.



'Kostya, do you know whom Sergei Ivanich came across in the train?' said Dolly, after she had distributed cucumbers and honey among the children. 'Vronsky! He's going to Serbia.'

'Yes, and not alone either. He's taking a whole squadron with him at his own expense,' Katavasov put in.

That is like him,' said Levin. 'Are volunteers still going out then?' he added, glancing at Koznyshev. Koznyshev did not answer. With the blunt side of a knife he was carefully trying to extricate from a bowl in which lay a wedge of white honeycomb a live bee that had got stuck in the running honey.

‘I should say so! You ought to have seen what went on at the station yesterday!' said Katavasov, crunching off a chunk of cucumber.

'What on earth is it all about? For heaven's sake, do explain to me, Sergei Ivanich, where all these volunteers are going and whom they are fighting,' said the old prince, evidently continuing a conversation that had been started in Levin's absence.

'The Turks, of course,' Koznyshev replied with a quiet smile, rescuing the bee, dark with honey and helplessly kicking, and shifting it from the knife to a stout aspen leaf.

“But who has declared war on the Turks? Ivan Ivanich Ragozov and the Countess Lydia Ivanovna, in collaboration with Madame Stahl?'

'No one has declared war, but people sympathize with their suffering brethren and are eager to help them,' said Koznyshev.

‘But the prince is not talking of help but of war,' Levin put in, coming to the assistance of his father-in-law. 'The prince means that private individuals cannot take part in war without the sanction of the government.'

'Kostya, mind! There's a bee - I'm afraid we shall get stung,' said Dolly, warding off a wasp.

"That's not a bee, it's a wasp,' said Levin.

'Well, come along, give us your theory,' Katavasov said to Levin with a smile, evidently wanting to challenge him to a discussion. 'Why have private individuals no right to go to war?'

'Oh, my theory's this: on the one hand war is such a bestial, cruel, dreadful affair that no man - to say nothing of a Christian - can take upon himself personally the responsibility of beginning a war: that can only be done by a government, whose business it is to look to these things when they become inevitable. On the other hand, both political science and common sense teach us that in matters of state, especially in the matter of war, private citizens must renounce their personal individual will.'

Koznyshev and Katavasov, both ready with their rejoinders, began speaking together. 'But the point is, my dear fellow, that there may be cases when the Government does not carry out the will of the people and then the public asserts its will,' said Katavasov.

But Koznyshev evidently did not approve of this reply. He frowned at Katavasov's words and began differently:

'It is a pity you put the question that way. There is no declaration of war in this case but simply an expression of humane Christian feeling. Our brothers, men of the same blood, the same faith, are being massacred. Even supposing they were not our brothers, our co-religionists, but merely children, women, and old people, feeling is aroused and Russians fly to help check these atrocities. Imagine you were walking along the street and saw some drunken men beating a woman or a child - I don't think you would stop to inquire whether war had been declared on the men: you would rush at them and defend the victim.'

'Yes, but I should not kill them,' said Levin. "You might.'

'I don't know. If I saw such a sight, I might yield to my immediate impulse; but I can't say beforehand. But there is no immediate impulse in the case of the oppression of the Slavonic people, nor can there be.'

'Possibly not for you; but there is with others,' said Koznyshev, frowning with displeasure. 'There is still a racial memory among the people of Orthodox Christians groaning under the yoke of the “infidel Musulman”. The people have heard of the sufferings of their brethren and have spoken.'

That may be,' said Levin evasively, 'only I don't see it. I'm one of the people myself, and I don't feel it.'

‘Nor do I,' said the prince. 'I was staying abroad and reading the papers, and I confess, up to the time of the Bulgarian atrocities, I couldn't make out why all Russia suddenly grew so fond of our Slavonic brethren, when I felt not the slightest affection for them. I was very much upset - I thought I must be a monster, or that the waters of Karlsbad were having that effect on me. But since I came home my mind's been set at rest. I see that there are other people besides myself who are only interested in Russia, and not in their brotherSlavs. Kostya, for example.'

'Personal opinions don't count in this matter,' said Koznyshev. There is no room for personal opinions when all Russia - the whole nation - has expressed its will.'

'But, excuse me, I don't see that. The people don't know a thing about it,' said the old prince.

‘Oh, Papa! ... how can you say that? What about in church last Sunday?' remarked Dolly, who was following the conversation. 'Get me a cloth, please,' she said to the old bee-keeper who was smiling at the children. 'It can't be that all ...'

‘But what was there in church on Sunday? The priest had been told to read that. He read it. The people didn't understand a word of it and sighed, just as they do at any sermon,' went on the prince. "Then they were told that there was to be a collection for some salutary object, so they each produce their kopeck, but what for – they have no idea!

'The people cannot help knowing. A consciousness of their destiny always exists in the people, and at moments like the present that consciousness finds utterance,' said Koznyshev, glancing at the old beekeeper.

The handsome old man, with his black beard in which the grey was beginning to show and his thick silvery hair, stood there motionless, a bowl of honey in his hand, looking down from his great height at the gentlefolk with a mild, placid air, clearly neither understanding nor caring to understand what they were talking about.

'That is so, no doubt,' he said with a significant shake of his head at Koznyshev's words.

'Here, ask him about it. He knows nothing and has no ideas,' said Levin. 'Have you heard about the war, Mihalich?' he asked, addressing the old man. 'What they read in church? What do you think now? Ought we to fight for the Christians?'

'Why should we bother our heads? Alexander Nikolayevich our Emperor has thought about it for us, as he always does. He knows best. ... Shall I bring a bit more bread? Give the wee lad some more?' he asked Dolly, pointing to Grisha, who was finishing his crust.

'I don't need to ask,' said Koznyshev. 'We have seen and still see hundreds upon hundreds of men throwing up everything to serve the righteous cause - men from every corner of Russia, openly and clearly declaring their thought and aim. They bring their halfpence or enlist themselves, and say straight out what for. What does that mean?'

'It means, to my mind,' said Levin, beginning to get excited, that in a nation of eighty millions there will always be found, not hundreds, as now, but tens of thousands of men who have lost caste, a restless crew ready for anything – to join Pugachev's robber band, to go to Khiva, or to Serbia ... anywhere.'

'I tell you it's not a case of hundreds, and they are not a “restless crew” but the best representatives of the people!' said Koznyshev, as heatedly as if he were defending the last penny of his fortune. ‘And what about the donations? There at any rate is the whole people directly expressing its will.'

'That word "people” is so vague,' said Levin. 'Parish clerks, teachers, and perhaps one in a thousand of the peasantry may know what it's all about. The rest of our eighty million, like Mihalich here, far from expressing their will, haven't the faintest idea what there is for them to express their will about! What right then have we to say that this is the people's will?'


Koznyshev, being an experienced dialectician, made no rejoinder but at once turned the conversation to another aspect of the subject.

Oh, if you want to gauge the national spirit arithmetically, of course, it will be very difficult. Voting has not been introduced into our country, and cannot be, for it does not express the will of the people; but there are other means. It is felt in the air; the heart feels it. I won't speak of those deep undercurrents which have stirred the stagnant mass of the nation - currents evident to every unprejudiced person. Let us look at society in the narrow sense. All the most diverse sections of the intellectual world, hostile before, have combined on this point. All differences are at an end, all the organs of society say the same thing over and over again, all have become aware of an elemental force that has seized them and is carrying them, one and all, in one direction.'

'Yes, the papers all say the same thing,' said the prince. 'That's true. So much the same that they are just like frogs before a storm! You can't hear anything else for their croaking!'

'Frogs or no frogs - I am not a newspaper editor and I don't want to defend them: I am speaking of the unanimity of opinion in the intellectual world,' said Koznyshev, turning to his brother.

Levin was about to reply but the old prince forestalled him.

'As to that unanimity, there's something else to be said on that score,' he observed. 'There's my son-in-law, Stepan Arkadyevich; you know him. He's got a place now on the committee of a commission of something or other - I don't remember what. All I know is that there's no work to do - why, Dolly, it's no secret! – and a salary of eight thousand. Try asking him if his office is of use, and he'll prove to you that it's indispensable. And he is a truthful man too, but there's no refusing to believe in the usefulness of eight thousand roubles.'

'Yes, he asked me to tell Darya Alexandrovna that he has got the post,' said Koznyshev, ill-pleased at what he considered irrelevance on the part of the prince.

'So it is with the unanimity of the Press. It's been explained to me: as soon as there is a war their circulation is doubled. How can they help considering that the fate of the people and the Slavonic races ... and all the rest of it?'

'Many of the papers I don't care for, but that is unjust,' said Koznyshev.

'I would make just one stipulation,' pursued the old prince. 'Alphonse Karr put it very well before the war with Prussia, when he wrote: “You say this war is absolutely necessary? Very well! He who advocates war - off with him in a special advance legion to lead the first onslaught, the first attack!”

'What fine figures the newspaper editors would cut!' remarked Katavasov with a loud laugh, picturing the editors of his acquaintance in this picked legion.

"Oh, but they'd run,' said Dolly; 'they'd only be in the way.'

'If they run, fire grapeshot into their backsides, or send Cossacks after them with horsewhips,' said the prince.

'But that was only meant as a joke, and it's not a very good one, if you'll excuse my saying so, Prince,' said Koznyshev.

'I don't see that it was a joke; it ...' Levin began, but Koznyshev interrupted him.

'Every member of society is called upon to do his proper task,' he said, and intellectuals perform theirs by expressing public opinion. The unanimous and full expression of public opinion is the service of the Press and a phenomenon to rejoice us at the same time. Twenty years ago we should have been silent, but to-day the voice of the Russian people is heard, ready to rise as one man and sacrifice themselves for their oppressed brethren. That is a great step forward and a token of strength.'

"But it's not a question of sacrificing themselves only, but of killing Turks,’ observed Levin timidly. "The people sacrifice themselves and are always prepared to go on doing so for the good of their souls, but not for the purpose of murder,' he added, involuntarily connecting the conversation with the ideas that so engrossed his mind.

'What do you mean by soul? That is a puzzling term for a natural scientist, you know. What is a soul?' Katavasov inquired with a smile.

'You know quite well!'

'Upon my word, I haven't the faintest idea,' said Katavasov, laughing loudly.

'Said Christ, “I came not to send peace, but a sword,” ' remarked Koznyshev for his part, quoting quite simply, as if it were the easiest thing in the world to understand, the very passage from the Scriptures that had always perplexed Levin more than any other.

'That's so, no doubt,' repeated the old beekeeper, who was standing near them, in response to a chance look turned in his direction.

'No, my dear friend, you're worsted, completely worsted!' cried Katavasov merrily.

Levin flushed with annoyance, not at being worsted but because he had let himself be drawn into argument, and not contained himself.

'No, I can't argue with them,' he thought. 'They wear impenetrable armour, while I'm naked.'

He saw that it was impossible to convince his brother and Katavasov, and still less did he see any possibility of agreeing with them himself. What they were advocating was the very pride of intellect that had almost been his ruin. He could not admit that it was right for a handful of men, among them his brother, to assert, on the strength of what they were told by a few hundred volunteers with the gift of the gab swarming to the city, that they and the newspapers were expressing the will and feeling of the people - especially when that feeling found its expression in bloodshed and murder. He could not admit this, because he saw no confirmation of such feelings in the masses among whom he was living, nor did he find any such thoughts in himself (and he could not consider himself as other than one of the people making up the Russian nation). Above all, he could not agree because he, in common with the people, did not know and could not know wherein lay the general welfare, though he knew beyond a doubt that this welfare could only be achieved by strict observance of that law of right and wrong which has been revealed to every man, and therefore he could not wish for war or advocate war for any public advantage. He upheld Mihalich, and the people who had expressed their feeling in the legend of the invitation to the Varangians:* 'Come and rule over us. Gladly we swear complete submission. All the toil, all humiliations, all sacrifice shall be ours; but we do not wish to have to judge and make decisions.' Now, however, according to his brother, the people were forgoing the right they had purchased so dearly.

He wanted to ask, too, why, if public opinion were an infallible guide, a revolution, a commune were not as legitimate as the movement in favour of the Slavonic peoples. But these were all thoughts that could lead nowhere. One thing stood out clearly, and that was that at the actual moment the altercation was irritating his brother, and so it was wrong to continue it. And Levin held his peace, and drew the attention of his guests to the clouds that were gathering, and suggested a speedy return to the house before it rained.

[* The Norse chiefs who, at the dawn of Russian history, were invited by the Slav tribes of Russia to come and rule over them and establish order. Tr.]


The prince and Koznyshev got into the trap and drove off. The rest of the party, hastening their steps, started home on foot.

But the clouds, turning white and then black, gathered so rapidly that they had to quicken their pace still more if they were to reach home before the rain. The leading clouds, lowering and black as soot-laden smoke, drove with extraordinary swiftness across the sky. The party was still some two hundred paces from the house when the wind rose and the downpour was to be expected at any moment.

The children ran on ahead shrieking with fear and delight. Dolly, struggling with the skirts that clung round her legs, was not walking bit running, her eyes fixed on the children. The men hurried along, holding on to their hats and taking long strides. They just got to the steps when a large rain-drop splashed on the edge of the iron guttering. The children and their elders after them ran under the roof for shelter, talking merrily.

'And Katerina Alexandrovna?' Levin asked Agatha Mihalovna, who met them in the hall with cloaks and rugs.

'We thought she was with you.' ‘And Mitya?'

“He must be in the woods, and nurse is with them.' Levin snatched up the rugs and rushed to the woods.

In that brief interval of time the heart of the storm-cloud had already so blotted out the sun that it was as dark as during an eclipse. The wind pushed Levin back stubbornly, as though insisting on its own, tearing the leaves and blossoms off the lime-trees, stripping the white birch branches into strange unseemly nakedness, and twisting everything, acacias, flowers, burdocks, grass, and tree-tops all in one direction. The peasant girls who had been working in the garden ran screeching to shelter in the servants' quarters. A driving white curtain of rain had already descended over the distant forest and half the field next to it, and was advancing rapidly towards the woods. The air was filled with the moisture of the rain, shattered into tiny drops.

Lowering his head and struggling with the wind that strove to tear the wraps out of his hands, Levin had almost reached the copse and could see something white gleaming behind an oak-tree, when suddenly there was a glare of light, the whole earth seemed on fire, and the vault of heaven cracked overhead. Opening his blinded eyes, to his horror the first thing Levin saw through the thick curtain of rain between him and the woods was the uncannily altered position of the green crest of a familiar oak in the middle of the copse. 'Can it have been struck?' The thought had barely time to cross his mind when, gathering speed, the oak disappeared behind the other trees and he heard the crash of the great tree falling on to the others.

The flash of lightning, the peal of thunder, and the instantaneous chill that ran through his body all merged for Levin into a single sensation of terror.

‘Oh God! Oh God! Not on them!' he breathed.

And though he thought at once how senseless was his prayer that they should not have been killed by the oak which had fallen now, he repeated it, knowing that he could do nothing better than utter this senseless entreaty.

Running to the spot where they generally went, he did not find them there.

They were at the other end of the copse under an old lime-tree, and were calling to him. Two figures in dark dresses (they had been light summer frocks before they got drenched) were crouching over something. It was Kitty and the nurse. The rain was already leaving off, and it was growing lighter when Levin came running up to them.

The hem of the nurse's dress was dry but Kitty was wet through and her clothes clung to her body. Though it had stopped raining, they still stood in the same postures they had adopted when the storm broke: both stood bending over a baby-carriage with a green hood.

‘Alive? Safe? Thank God!' he muttered, splashing up to them through the puddles, one shoe half off and full of water.

Kitty's wet rosy face was turned to him and she smiled timidly beneath her bedraggled hat.

'Well, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! I can't think how you can be so reckless!' said Levin, falling on his wife in vexation.

'It wasn't my fault, really. We were just going home when there was an accident and we had to change him. We had hardly ...' Kitty began defending herself.

Mitya was unharmed and dry, and still fast asleep. 'Well, thank God! I don't know what I'm saying!

They gathered up the wet napkins; the nurse picked up the baby in her arms and carried him. Levin walked beside his wife, conscience-stricken at having been angry, and stealthily, when the nurse was not looking, squeezed Kitty's hand.


For the whole of the rest of the day, in the most diverse conversations in which he took part only as it were with the top layer of his mind, Levin did not cease to be joyfully conscious of the fulness of his heart, in spite of his disappointment at not finding the change he expected in himself.

After the rain it was too wet to go for a walk; besides, the storm clouds still hung about the horizon and gathered here and there, black and thundery, on the rim of the sky. So the whole company spent the rest of the day in the house.

No more disputes sprang up - on the contrary, after dinner everyone was in the most amiable frame of mind.

To begin with, Katavasov amused the ladies with his funny jokes, which always pleased people on their first acquaintance with him.

Then Koznyshev induced him to tell them of the extremely interesting observations he had made on the difference in character, and even in physiognomy, between the male and female house-flies, and on their babits. Koznyshev, too, was in good spirits, and at tea, led on by his brother, expounded his views on the future of the Eastern question, and talked so simply and so well that everyone listened eagerly.

Kitty was the only one who did not hear it all - she was called away to give Mitya his bath.

A few minutes after Kitty had left the room a message was brought to Levin that she wanted to see him in the nursery.

Leaving his tea, and regretfully interrupting such an interesting conversation, Levin went to the nursery, uneasily wondering why he had been thus summoned, as this only happened on important occasions.

Though Koznyshev's theory, which Levin had not heard to the end - of bow an emancipated world of forty million men of Slavonic race, acting with Russia, would create a new epoch in history - interested him very much as something quite new to him, and though he was disturbed by uneasy wonder as to why he was being sent for, yet as soon as he left the drawing-room and found himself alone his mind reverted at once to the thoughts of the morning. All those speculations about the significance of the Slav element in world history seemed to him so trivial compared with what was going on in his own soul that he there and then forgot it all and dropped back into the frame of mind he had been in that morning.

He did not now go over, as he had done at other times, the whole sequence of his thoughts (he had no need to). He returned straight to the feeling that governed him, which was connected with those thoughts, and found that feeling in his soul still stronger and clearer than it had been that morning. Before when he had devised a comforting argument for himself he had been obliged to recapitulate the whole chain of ideas in order to arrive back at the feeling; but it was not like that now. On the contrary, this time the feeling of joy and tranquillity was more vivid than before, and thought could not keep pace with feeling.

He walked across the terrace and looked at two stars that had appeared in the already darkening sky, and suddenly he remembered. "Yes,' he said to himself, as I looked at the heavens I thought that the vault that I see is not a deception - but there was something I only half thought out, something I shut my eyes to. But whatever it was, it cannot have been a refutation. I need only think it over and all will become clear.'

Just as he was entering the nursery he remembered what it was he had shut his eyes to. It was this – that if the chief proof of the existence of a Deity lies in His revelation of what is right, why is that revelation confined to the Christian Church alone? How about the Buddhist, the Mohammedan faiths which also preach and do good?

It seemed to him that he had the answer to that question; but he had no time to formulate it to himself before entering the nursery.

Kitty, with her sleeves tucked up, was bending over the bath in which the baby was splashing about. Hearing her husband's step she turned her face towards him and beckoned him with a smile. With one hand she was supporting the head of the fat, kicking baby which lay floating on its back, while with the other she squeezed the sponge over him, the muscles in her arm straining rhythmically each time.

'Oh, look, look!' she said when her husband came up. 'Agatha Mihalovna was right. He does know us!'

The fact was that Mitya had that day begun to show unmistakable, incontestable signs of recognizing his nearest and dearest.

Directly Levin approached the bath, an experiment was tried, and it was completely successful. The cook, summoned with this object, took Kitty's place and bent over the baby. The baby frowned and moved his head from side to side in protest. Kitty leant over him - his face lit up with a smile. He pushed his little hands against the sponge and bubbled with his lips, making such a queer little contented sound that Kitty and the nurse were not alone in their raptures. Levin, too, was surprised and delighted.

The nurse lifted the baby out of the bath, rested him on one hand and poured fresh water over him. Then he was wrapped up in a bath-sheet and dried and, after a penetrating yell, turned over to his mother.

'Well, I am glad you are beginning to grow fond of him,' said Kitty to her husband, when she had settled herself comfortably in her usual place with the child at her breast. “I am so glad. You said you had no feeling for him, and it was beginning to worry me.

'No, did I really say that? I only meant that I was disappointed.' 'What? Disappointed in him?'

'Not exactly in him, but in my own feeling for him. I had expected more. I had expected some novel pleasant emotion to awaken in me, like a surprise, and instead there was only a sensation of disgust, pity ...

She listened attentively, looking at him over the baby, while she replaced on her slender fingers the rings she had taken off before bathing Mitya.

'And above all, at there being far more anxiety and pity than satisfaction, I never knew until to-day, after that fright during the storm, how I loved him.

Kitty's smile was radiant.

Were you very frightened?' she asked. “I was too, but it feels more dreadful now that it is past. I must go and look at that oak. What a dear Katavasov is! And taken all round what a happy day we've had! And you are so nice with your brother when you like. ... You had better go back to them now. It's always hot and steamy in here after the bath.'


When he left the nursery and was alone again, Levin immediately remembered the thought that had not been very clear to him.

Instead of going back to the drawing-room, where he heard the sound of voices, he stopped on the terrace and, leaning his elbows on the balustrade, gazed up at the sky.

It had grown quite dark, and to the south, where he was looking, the sky was clear. The clouds had drifted over in the opposite direction, where lightning flashed and there was a distant rumble of thunder. Levin listened to the raindrops monotonously dripping from the lime-trees in the garden and looked up at a familiar triangle of stars and at the ramifications of the Milky Way intersecting it. At each flash not only the Milky Way but even the brightest of stars vanished, but immediately afterwards they would reappear in their places as if thrown there by some unerring hand.

'Well, what is it that troubles me?' Levin asked himself, feeling in advance that the solution of his doubts was ready in his soul, though he did not know it yet. 'Yes, the one obvious, unmistakable manifestation of the Deity is the law of good and evil disclosed to men by revelation, which I feel in myself and in the recognition of which I do not so much as unite myself as am united, whether I will or no, with other men into one body of believers which is called the Church. But the Jews, the Mohammedans, the Confucians, the Buddhists - what of them?' he put to himself the dilemma that had threatened him before. Can those hundreds of millions of human beings be deprived of that greatest of blessings without which life has no meaning?' he pondered but immediately pulled himself up. ‘But what is it that I want to know?' he said to himself. “I am asking about the relation to the Deity of all the different religions of mankind. I am seeking to fathom the general manifestation of God to the universe with all its stars and planets. What am I about? Knowledge, sure, unattainable by reason, has been revealed to me, to my heart, and here am I obstinately trying to express that knowledge in words and by means of reason.

‘Do I not know that it is not the stars that are moving?' he asked himself, looking at a bright planet that had already shifted its position to the top branch of a birch-tree. ‘But seeing the stars change place and not being able to picture to myself the revolution of the earth, I am right in saying that the stars move.

‘And the astronomers – could they have understood and calculated anything if they had taken into account all the complicated and varied motions of the earth? All the marvellous conclusions they have reached about the distances, weight, movements, and disturbances of the celestial bodies are based on the apparent movement of the stars round a stationary earth – on the very movement I am witnessing now, that millions of men have witnessed during long ages, that has been and always will be the same, and that can always be trusted. And just as the conclusions of the astronomers would have been idle and precarious had they not been founded on observations of the visible heavens in relation to a single meridian and a single horizon, so all my conclusions would be idle and precarious if not founded on that understanding of good and evil which was and always will be alike for all men, which has been revealed to me by Christianity and which can always be trusted in my own soul. I have no right to try to decide the question of other religions and their relations to the Deity; that must remain unfathomable for me.'

‘Oh, you haven't gone in yet?' he suddenly heard Kitty's voice, as she passed that way to the drawing-room. 'You're not upset about anything, are you?' she inquired, peering intently into his face in the starlight.

But she would not have been able to make out its expression had not a flash of lightning that blotted out the stars illuminated it for her. The lightning showed her his face distinctly, and seeing that he was calm and happy she smiled at him.

'She understands,' he thought. 'She knows what I am thinking about. Shall I tell her or not? Yes, I will ...' But just as he opened his mouth to speak she turned to him first.

‘Oh, Kostya, be nice and go and see if Sergei Ivanich will be comfortable in the corner room. I can't very well go myself. See if they've put the new washstand in.'

'Very well, I'll go directly,' said Levin, straightening up and kissing her.

‘No, I had better not speak of it,' he thought, as she passed in before him. “It is a secret for me alone, of vital importance for me, and not to be put into words.

‘This new feeling has not changed me, has not made me happy and enlightened all of a sudden, as I dreamed it would. It is like the way it was with my feeling for my son. There was no surprise about this either. But be it faith or not - I don't know what it is – through suffering this feeling has crept just as imperceptibly into my heart and has lodged itself firmly there.

'I shall still lose my temper with Ivan the coachman, I shall still embark on useless discussions and express my opinions inopportunely; there will still be the same wall between the sanctuary of my inmost soul and other people, even my wife; I shall probably go on scolding her in my anxiety and repenting of it afterwards; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying - but my life now, my whole life, independently of anything That can happen to me, every minute of it is no longer meaningless as it was before, but has a positive meaning of goodness with which I have the power to invest it.'


bottom of page