Passing through the outer hall, divided up by screens, and the room partitioned on the right, where a man sits at the fruit buffet, Levin overtook an old man walking slowly in, and entered the dining room full of noise and people.
He walked along the tables, almost all full, and looked at the visitors. He saw people of all sorts, old and young; some he knew a little, some intimate friends. There was not a single cross or worried-looking face. All seemed to have left their cares and anxieties in the porter’s room with their hats, and were all deliberately getting ready to enjoy the material blessings of life. Sviazhsky was here and Shtcherbatsky, Nevyedovsky and the old prince, and Vronsky and Sergey Ivanovitch.
“Ah! why are you late?” the prince said smiling, and giving him his hand over his own shoulder. “How’s Kitty?” he added, smoothing out the napkin he had tucked in at his waistcoat buttons.
“All right; they are dining at home, all the three of them.”
“Ah, ‘Aline-Nadine,’ to be sure! There’s no room with us. Go to that table, and make haste and take a seat,” said the prince, and turning away he carefully took a plate of eel soup.
“Levin, this way!” a good-natured voice shouted a little farther on. It was Turovtsin. He was sitting with a young officer, and beside them were two chairs turned upside down. Levin gladly went up to them. He had always liked the good-hearted rake, Turovtsin—he was associated in his mind with memories of his courtship—and at that moment, after the strain of intellectual conversation, the sight of Turovtsin’s good-natured face was particularly welcome.
“For you and Oblonsky. He’ll be here directly.”
The young man, holding himself very erect, with eyes forever twinkling with enjoyment, was an officer from Petersburg, Gagin. Turovtsin introduced them.
“Oblonsky’s always late.”
“Ah, here he is!”
“Have you only just come?” said Oblonsky, coming quickly towards them. “Good day. Had some vodka? Well, come along then.”
Levin got up and went with him to the big table spread with spirits and appetizers of the most various kinds. One would have thought that out of two dozen delicacies one might find something to one’s taste, but Stepan Arkadyevitch asked for something special, and one of the liveried waiters standing by immediately brought what was required. They drank a wine glassful and returned to their table.
At once, while they were still at the soup, Gagin was served with champagne, and told the waiter to fill four glasses. Levin did not refuse the wine, and asked for a second bottle. He was very hungry, and ate and drank with great enjoyment, and with still greater enjoyment took part in the lively and simple conversation of his companions. Gagin, dropping his voice, told the last good story from Petersburg, and the story, though improper and stupid, was so ludicrous that Levin broke into roars of laughter so loud that those near looked round.