“Eh! our conversation yesterday?” said Levin, blissfully dropping his eyelids and drawing deep breaths after finishing his dinner, and absolutely incapable of recalling what their conversation yesterday was about.
“I think you are partly right. Our difference of opinion amounts to this, that you make the mainspring self-interest, while I suppose that interest in the common weal is bound to exist in every man of a certain degree of advancement. Possibly you are right too, that action founded on material interest would be more desirable. You are altogether, as the French say, too primesautiere a nature; you must have intense, energetic action, or nothing.”
Levin listened to his brother and did not understand a single word, and did not want to understand. He was only afraid his brother might ask him some question which would make it evident he had not heard.
“So that’s what I think it is, my dear boy,” said Sergey Ivanovitch, touching him on the shoulder.
“Yes, of course. But, do you know? I won’t stand up for my view,” answered Levin, with a guilty, childlike smile. “Whatever was it I was disputing about?” he wondered. “Of course, I’m right, and he’s right, and it’s all first-rate. Only I must go round to the counting house and see to things.” He got up, stretching and smiling. Sergey Ivanovitch smiled too.
“If you want to go out, let’s go together,” he said, disinclined to be parted from his brother, who seemed positively breathing out freshness and energy. “Come, we’ll go to the counting house, if you have to go there.”
“Oh, heavens!” shouted Levin, so loudly that Sergey Ivanovitch was quite frightened.
“What, what is the matter?”
“How’s Agafea Mihalovna’s hand?” said Levin, slapping himself on the head. “I’d positively forgotten her even.”
“It’s much better.”
“Well, anyway I’ll run down to her. Before you’ve time to get your hat on, I’ll be back.”
And he ran downstairs, clattering with his heels like a spring-rattle.
Stephan Arkadyevitch had gone to Petersburg to perform the most natural and essential official duty—so familiar to everyone in the government service, though incomprehensible to outsiders— that duty, but for which one could hardly be in government service, of reminding the ministry of his existence—and having, for the due performance of this rite, taken all the available cash from home, was gaily and agreeably spending his days at the races and in the summer villas. Meanwhile Dolly and the children had moved into the country, to cut down expenses as much as possible. She had gone to Ergushovo, the estate that had been her dowry, and the one where in spring the forest had been sold. It was nearly forty miles from Levin’s Pokrovskoe. The big, old house at Ergushovo had been pulled down long ago, and the old prince