From much of what was spoken and written on the subject, Sergey Ivanovitch differed on various points. He saw that the Slavonic question had become one of those fashionable distractions which succeed one another in providing society with an object and an occupation. He saw, too, that a great many people were taking up the subject from motives of self-interest and self-advertisement. He recognized that the newspapers published a great deal that was superfluous and exaggerated, with the sole aim of attracting attention and outbidding one another. He saw that in this general movement those who thrust themselves most forward and shouted the loudest were men who had failed and were smarting under a sense of injury—generals without armies, ministers not in the ministry, journalists not on any paper, party leaders without followers. He saw that there was a great deal in it that was frivolous and absurd. But he saw and recognized an unmistakable growing enthusiasm, uniting all classes, with which it was impossible not to sympathize. The massacre of men who were fellow Christians, and of the same Slavonic race, excited sympathy for the sufferers and indignation against the oppressors. And the heroism of the Servians and Montenegrins struggling for a great cause begot in the whole people a longing to help their brothers not in word but in deed.
But in this there was another aspect that rejoiced Sergey Ivanovitch. That was the manifestation of public opinion. The public had definitely expressed its desire. The soul of the people had, as Sergey Ivanovitch said, found expression. And the more he worked in this cause, the more incontestable it seemed to him that it was a cause destined to assume vast dimensions, to create an epoch.
He threw himself heart and soul into the service of this great cause, and forgot to think about his book. His whole time now was engrossed by it, so that he could scarcely manage to answer all the letters and appeals addressed to him. He worked the whole spring and part of the summer, and it was only in July that he prepared to go away to his brother’s in the country.
He was going both to rest for a fortnight, and in the very heart of the people, in the farthest wilds of the country, to enjoy the sight of that uplifting of the spirit of the people, of which, like all residents in the capital and big towns, he was fully persuaded. Katavasov had long been meaning to carry out his promise to stay with Levin, and so he was going with him.
Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov had only just reached the station of the Kursk line, which was particularly busy and full of people that day, when, looking round for the groom who was following with their things, they saw a party of volunteers driving up in four cabs. Ladies met them with bouquets of flowers, and followed by the rushing crowd they went into the station.