“Quite so, where you please,” said Ryabinin with contemptuous dignity, as though wishing to make it felt that others might be in difficulties as to how to behave, but that he could never be in any difficulty about anything.
On entering the study Ryabinin looked about, as his habit was, as though seeking the holy picture, but when he had found it, he did not cross himself. He scanned the bookcases and bookshelves, and with the same dubious air with which he had regarded the snipe, he smiled contemptuously and shook his head disapprovingly, as though by no means willing to allow that this game were worth the candle.
“Well, have you brought the money?” asked Oblonsky. “Sit down.”
“Oh, don’t trouble about the money. I’ve come to see you to talk it over.”
“What is there to talk over? But do sit down.”
“I don’t mind if I do,” said Ryabinin, sitting down and leaning his elbows on the back of his chair in a position of the intensest discomfort to himself. “You must knock it down a bit, prince. It would be too bad. The money is ready conclusively to the last farthing. As to paying the money down, there’ll be no hitch there.”
Levin, who had meanwhile been putting his gun away in the cupboard, was just going out of the door, but catching the merchant’s words, he stopped.
“Why, you’ve got the forest for nothing as it is,” he said. “He came to me too late, or I’d have fixed the price for him.”
Ryabinin got up, and in silence, with a smile, he looked Levin down and up.
“Very close about money is Konstantin Dmitrievitch,” he said with a smile, turning to Stepan Arkadyevitch; “there’s positively no dealing with him. I was bargaining for some wheat of him, and a pretty price I offered too.”
“Why should I give you my goods for nothing? I didn’t pick it up on the ground, nor steal it either.”
“Mercy on us! nowadays there’s no chance at all of stealing. With the open courts and everything done in style, nowadays there’s no question of stealing. We are just talking things over like gentlemen. His excellency’s asking too much for the forest. I can’t make both ends meet over it. I must ask for a little concession.”
“But is the thing settled between you or not? If it’s settled, it’s useless haggling; but if it’s not,” said Levin, “I’ll buy the forest.”
The smile vanished at once from Ryabinin’s face. A hawklike, greedy, cruel expression was left upon it. With rapid, bony fingers he unbuttoned his coat, revealing a shirt, bronze waistcoat buttons, and a watch chain, and quickly pulled out a fat old pocketbook.
“Here you are, the forest is mine,” he said, crossing himself quickly, and holding out his hand. “Take the money; it’s my forest. That’s Ryabinin’s way of doing business; he doesn’t haggle over every half-penny,” he added, scowling and waving the pocketbook.