“Splendid! Together!” cried Levin, and he ran with Laska into the thicket to look for the snipe.
“Oh, yes, what was it that was unpleasant?” he wondered. “Yes, Kitty’s ill.... Well, it can’t be helped; I’m very sorry,” he thought.
“She’s found it! Isn’t she a clever thing?” he said, taking the warm bird from Laska’s mouth and packing it into the almost full game bag. “I’ve got it, Stiva!” he shouted.
On the way home Levin asked all details of Kitty’s illness and the Shtcherbatskys’ plans, and though he would have been ashamed to admit it, he was pleased at what he heard. He was pleased that there was still hope, and still more pleased that she should be suffering who had made him suffer so much. But when Stepan Arkadyevitch began to speak of the causes of Kitty’s illness, and mentioned Vronsky’s name, Levin cut him short.
“I have no right whatever to know family matters, and, to tell the truth, no interest in them either.”
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled hardly perceptibly, catching the instantaneous change he knew so well in Levin’s face, which had become as gloomy as it had been bright a minute before.
“Have you quite settled about the forest with Ryabinin?” asked Levin.
“Yes, it’s settled. The price is magnificent; thirty-eight thousand. Eight straight away, and the rest in six years. I’ve been bothering about it for ever so long. No one would give more.”
“Then you’ve as good as given away your forest for nothing,” said Levin gloomily.
“How do you mean for nothing?” said Stepan Arkadyevitch with a good-humored smile, knowing that nothing would be right in Levin’s eyes now.
“Because the forest is worth at least a hundred and fifty roubles the acre,” answered Levin.
“Oh, these farmers!” said Stepan Arkadyevitch playfully. “Your tone of contempt for us poor townsfolk!... But when it comes to business, we do it better than anyone. I assure you I have reckoned it all out,” he said, “and the forest is fetching a very good price—so much so that I’m afraid of this fellow’s crying off, in fact. You know it’s not ‘timber,’” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, hoping by this distinction to convince Levin completely of the unfairness of his doubts. “And it won’t run to more than twenty-five yards of fagots per acre, and he’s giving me at the rate of seventy roubles the acre.”
Levin smiled contemptuously. “I know,” he thought, “that fashion not only in him, but in all city people, who, after being twice in ten years in the country, pick up two or three phrases and use them in season and out of season, firmly persuaded that they know all about it. ‘Timber, run to so many yards the acre.’ He says those words without understanding them himself.”
“I wouldn’t attempt to teach you what you write about in your office,” said he, “and if need arose, I should come to you to ask about it. But you’re so positive you know all the lore of the forest. It’s difficult. Have you counted the trees?”