Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,311 pages of information about Anna Karenina.

“Well, have we finished?” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting up with a smile.  “Let us go.”

Chapter 8

Getting up from the table, Levin walked with Gagin through the lofty room to the billiard room, feeling his arms swing as he walked with a peculiar lightness and ease.  As he crossed the big room, he came upon his father-in-law.

“Well, how do you like our Temple of Indolence?” said the prince, taking his arm.  “Come along, come along!”

“Yes, I wanted to walk about and look at everything.  It’s interesting.”

“Yes, it’s interesting for you.  But its interest for me is quite different.  You look at those little old men now,” he said, pointing to a club member with bent back and projecting lip, shuffling towards them in his soft boots, “and imagine that they were shlupiks like that from their birth up.”

“How shlupiks?”

“I see you don’t know that name.  That’s our club designation.  You know the game of rolling eggs:  when one’s rolled a long while it becomes a shlupik.  So it is with us; one goes on coming and coming to the club, and ends by becoming a shlupik.  Ah, you laugh! but we look out, for fear of dropping into it ourselves.  You know Prince Tchetchensky?” inquired the prince; and Levin saw by his face that he was just going to relate something funny.

“No, I don’t know him.”

“You don’t say so!  Well, Prince Tchetchensky is a well-known figure.  No matter, though.  He’s always playing billiards here.  Only three years ago he was not a shlupik and kept up his spirits and even used to call other people shlupiks.  But one day he turns up, and our know Vassily?  Why, that fat one; he’s famous for his bon mots.  And so Prince Tchetchensky asks him, ‘Come, Vassily, who’s here?  Any shlupiks here yet?’ And he says, ‘You’re the third.’  Yes, my dear boy, that he did!”

Talking and greeting the friends they met, Levin and the prince walked through all the rooms:  the great room where tables had already been set, and the usual partners were playing for small stakes; the divan room, where they were playing chess, and Sergey Ivanovitch was sitting talking to somebody; the billiard room, where, about a sofa in a recess, there was a lively party drinking champagne—­Gagin was one of them.  They peeped into the “infernal regions,” where a good many men were crowding round one table, at which Yashvin was sitting.  Trying not to make a noise, they walked into the dark reading room, where under the shaded lamps there sat a young man with a wrathful countenance, turning over one journal after another, and a bald general buried in a book.  They went, too, into what the prince called the intellectual room, where three gentlemen were engaged in a heated discussion of the latest political news.

“Prince, please come, we’re ready,” said one of his card party, who had come to look for him, and the prince went off.  Levin sat down and listened, but recalling all the conversation of the morning he felt all of a sudden fearfully bored.  He got up hurriedly, and went to look for Oblonsky and Turovtsin, with whom it had been so pleasant.

Project Gutenberg
Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.