Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.
the very vivid interest he had felt before in Egyptian hieroglyphics.  He looked at the book and thought of something else.  He thought not of his wife, but of a complication that had arisen in his official life, which at the time constituted the chief interest of it.  He felt that he had penetrated more deeply than ever before into this intricate affair, and that he had originated a leading idea—­he could say it without self-flattery—­calculated to clear up the whole business, to strengthen him in his official career, to discomfit his enemies, and thereby to be of the greatest benefit to the government.  Directly the servant had set the tea and left the room, Alexey Alexandrovitch got up and went to the writing-table.  Moving into the middle of the table a portfolio of papers, with a scarcely perceptible smile of self-satisfaction, he took a pencil from a rack and plunged into the perusal of a complex report relating to the present complication.  The complication was of this nature:  Alexey Alexandrovitch’s characteristic quality as a politician, that special individual qualification that every rising functionary possesses, the qualification that with his unflagging ambition, his reserve, his honesty, and with his self-confidence had made his career, was his contempt for red tape, his cutting down of correspondence, his direct contact, wherever possible, with the living fact, and his economy.  It happened that the famous Commission of the 2nd of June had set on foot an inquiry into the irrigation of lands in the Zaraisky province, which fell under Alexey Alexandrovitch’s department, and was a glaring example of fruitless expenditure and paper reforms.  Alexey Alexandrovitch was aware of the truth of this.  The irrigation of these lands in the Zaraisky province had been initiated by the predecessor of Alexey Alexandrovitch’s predecessor.  And vast sums of money had actually been spent and were still being spent on this business, and utterly unproductively, and the whole business could obviously lead to nothing whatever.  Alexey Alexandrovitch had perceived this at once on entering office, and would have liked to lay hands on the Board of Irrigation.  But at first, when he did not yet feel secure in his position, he knew it would affect too many interests, and would be injudicious.  Later on he had been engrossed in other questions, and had simply forgotten the Board of Irrigation.  It went of itself, like all such boards, by the mere force of inertia. (Many people gained their livelihood by the Board of Irrigation, especially one highly conscientious and musical family:  all the daughters played on stringed instruments, and Alexey Alexandrovitch knew the family and had stood godfather to one of the elder daughters.) The raising of this question by a hostile department was in Alexey Alexandrovitch’s opinion a dishonorable proceeding, seeing that in every department there were things similar and worse, which no one inquired into, for well-known reasons
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Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.