“Why do you mix things up? I’ve never been a communist.”
“But I have, and I consider it’s premature, but rational, and it has a future, just like Christianity in its first ages.”
“All that I maintain is that the labor force ought to be investigated from the point of view of natural science; that is to say, it ought to be studied, its qualities ascertained...”
“But that’s utter waste of time. That force finds a certain form of activity of itself, according to the stage of its development. There have been slaves first everywhere, then metayers; and we have the half-crop system, rent, and day laborers. What are you trying to find?”
Levin suddenly lost his temper at these words, because at the bottom of his heart he was afraid that it was true—true that he was trying to hold the balance even between communism and the familiar forms, and that this was hardly possible.
“I am trying to find means of working productively for myself and for the laborers. I want to organize...” he answered hotly.
“You don’t want to organize anything; it’s simply just as you’ve been all your life, that you want to be original to pose as not exploiting the peasants simply, but with some idea in view.”
“Oh, all right, that’s what you think—and let me alone!” answered Levin, feeling the muscles of his left cheek twitching uncontrollably.
“You’ve never had, and never have, convictions; all you want is to please your vanity.”
“Oh, very well; then let me alone!”
“And I will let you alone! and it’s high time I did, and go to the devil with you! and I’m very sorry I ever came!”
In spite of all Levin’s efforts to soothe his brother afterwards, Nikolay would listen to nothing he said, declaring that it was better to part, and Konstantin saw that it simply was that life was unbearable to him.
Nikolay was just getting ready to go, when Konstantin went in to him again and begged him, rather unnaturally, to forgive him if he had hurt his feelings in any way.
“Ah, generosity!” said Nikolay, and he smiled. “If you want to be right, I can give you that satisfaction. You’re in the right; but I’m going all the same.”
It was only just at parting that Nikolay kissed him, and said, looking with sudden strangeness and seriousness at his brother:
“Anyway, don’t remember evil against me, Kostya!” and his voice quivered. These were the only words that had been spoken sincerely between them. Levin knew that those words meant, “You see, and you know, that I’m in a bad way, and maybe we shall not see each other again.” Levin knew this, and the tears gushed from his eyes. He kissed his brother once more, but he could not speak, and knew not what to say.
Three days after his brother’s departure, Levin too set off for his foreign tour. Happening to meet Shtcherbatsky, Kitty’s cousin, in the railway train, Levin greatly astonished him by his depression.