“The spring was broken yesterday,” said the footman.
“Well, the covered trap, then, and make haste. Where’s the visitor?”
“The gentleman’s gone to his room.”
Levin came upon Veslovsky at the moment when the latter, having unpacked his things from his trunk, and laid out some new songs, was putting on his gaiters to go out riding.
Whether there was something exceptional in Levin’s face, or that Vassenka was himself conscious that ce petit brin de cour he was making was out of place in this family, but he was somewhat (as much as a young man in society can be) disconcerted at Levin’s entrance.
“You ride in gaiters?”
“Yes, it’s much cleaner,” said Vassenka, putting his fat leg on a chair, fastening the bottom hook, and smiling with simple-hearted good humor.
He was undoubtedly a good-natured fellow, and Levin felt sorry for him and ashamed of himself, as his host, when he saw the shy look on Vassenka’s face.
On the table lay a piece of stick which they had broken together that morning, trying their strength. Levin took the fragment in his hands and began smashing it up, breaking bits off the stick, not knowing how to begin.
“I wanted....” He paused, but suddenly, remembering Kitty and everything that had happened, he said, looking him resolutely in the face: “I have ordered the horses to be put-to for you.”
“How so?” Vassenka began in surprise. “To drive where?”
“For you to drive to the station,” Levin said gloomily.
“Are you going away, or has something happened?”
“It happens that I expect visitors,” said Levin, his strong fingers more and more rapidly breaking off the ends of the split stick. “And I’m not expecting visitors, and nothing has happened, but I beg you to go away. You can explain my rudeness as you like.”
Vassenka drew himself up.
“I beg you to explain...” he said with dignity, understanding at last.
“I can’t explain,” Levin said softly and deliberately, trying to control the trembling of his jaw; “and you’d better not ask.”
And as the split ends were all broken off, Levin clutched the thick ends in his finger, broke the stick in two, and carefully caught the end as it fell.
Probably the sight of those nervous fingers, of the muscles he had proved that morning at gymnastics, of the glittering eyes, the soft voice, and quivering jaws, convinced Vassenka better than any words. He bowed, shrugging his shoulders, and smiling contemptuously.
“Can I not see Oblonsky?”
The shrug and the smile did not irritate Levin.
“What else was there for him to do?” he thought.
“I’ll send him to you at once.”
“What madness is this?” Stepan Arkadyevitch said when, after hearing from his friend that he was being turned out of the house, he found Levin in the garden, where he was walking about waiting for his guest’s departure. “Mais c’est ridicule! What fly has stung you? Mais c’est du dernier ridicule! What did you think, if a young man...”