“No, how’s one to sleep! I thought our gentlemen would be asleep, but I heard them chattering. I want to get a hook from here. She won’t bite?” he added, stepping cautiously with his bare feet.
“And where are you going to sleep?”
“We are going out for the night with the beasts.”
“Ah, what a night!” said Veslovsky, looking out at the edge of the hut and the unharnessed wagonette that could be seen in the faint light of the evening glow in the great frame of the open doors. “But listen, there are women’s voices singing, and, on my word, not badly too. Who’s that singing, my friend?”
“That’s the maids from hard by here.”
“Let’s go, let’s have a walk! We shan’t go to sleep, you know. Oblonsky, come along!”
“If one could only do both, lie here and go,” answered Oblonsky, stretching. “It’s capital lying here.”
“Well, I shall go by myself,” said Veslovsky, getting up eagerly, and putting on his shoes and stockings. “Good-bye, gentlemen. If it’s fun, I’ll fetch you. You’ve treated me to some good sport, and I won’t forget you.”
“He really is a capital fellow, isn’t he?” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, when Veslovsky had gone out and the peasant had closed the door after him.
“Yes, capital,” answered Levin, still thinking of the subject of their conversation just before. It seemed to him that he had clearly expressed his thoughts and feelings to the best of his capacity, and yet both of them, straightforward men and not fools, had said with one voice that he was comforting himself with sophistries. This disconcerted him.
“It’s just this, my dear boy. One must do one of two things: either admit that the existing order of society is just, and then stick up for one’s rights in it; or acknowledge that you are enjoying unjust privileges, as I do, and then enjoy them and be satisfied.”
“No, if it were unjust, you could not enjoy these advantages and be satisfied—at least I could not. The great thing for me is to feel that I’m not to blame.”
“What do you say, why not go after all?” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, evidently weary of the strain of thought. “We shan’t go to sleep, you know. Come, let’s go!”
Levin did not answer. What they had said in the conversation, that he acted justly only in a negative sense, absorbed his thoughts. “Can it be that it’s only possible to be just negatively?” he was asking himself.
“How strong the smell of the fresh hay is, though,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting up. “There’s not a chance of sleeping. Vassenka has been getting up some fun there. Do you hear the laughing and his voice? Hadn’t we better go? Come along!”
“No, I’m not coming,” answered Levin.
“Surely that’s not a matter of principle too,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling, as he felt about in the dark for his cap.
“It’s not a matter of principle, but why should I go?”