“You’re soon back again, sir,” said Agafea Mihalovna.
“I got tired of it, Agafea Mihalovna. With friends, one is well; but at home, one is better,” he answered, and went into his study.
The study was slowly lit up as the candle was brought in. The familiar details came out: the stag’s horns, the bookshelves, the looking-glass, the stove with its ventilator, which had long wanted mending, his father’s sofa, a large table, on the table an open book, a broken ash tray, a manuscript book with his handwriting. As he saw all this, there came over him for an instant a doubt of the possibility of arranging the new life, of which he had been dreaming on the road. All these traces of his life seemed to clutch him, and to say to him: “No, you’re not going to get away from us, and you’re not going to be different, but you’re going to be the same as you’ve always been; with doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness which you won’t get, and which isn’t possible for you.”
This the things said to him, but another voice in his heart was telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past, and that one can do anything with oneself. And hearing that voice, he went into the corner where stood his two heavy dumbbells, and began brandishing them like a gymnast, trying to restore his confident temper. There was a creak of steps at the door. He hastily put down the dumbbells.
The bailiff came in, and said everything, thank God, was doing well; but informed him that the buckwheat in the new drying machine had been a little scorched. This piece of news irritated Levin. The new drying machine had been constructed and partly invented by Levin. The bailiff had always been against the drying machine, and now it was with suppressed triumph that he announced that the buckwheat had been scorched. Levin was firmly convinced that if the buckwheat had been scorched, it was only because the precautions had not been taken, for which he had hundreds of times given orders. He was annoyed, and reprimanded the bailiff. But there had been an important and joyful event: Pava, his best cow, an expensive beast, bought at a show, had calved.
“Kouzma, give me my sheepskin. And you tell them to take a lantern. I’ll come and look at her,” he said to the bailiff.
The cowhouse for the more valuable cows was just behind the house. Walking across the yard, passing a snowdrift by the lilac tree, he went into the cowhouse. There was the warm, steamy smell of dung when the frozen door was opened, and the cows, astonished at the unfamiliar light of the lantern, stirred on the fresh straw. He caught a glimpse of the broad, smooth, black and piebald back of Hollandka. Berkoot, the bull, was lying down with his ring in his lip, and seemed about to get up, but thought better of it, and only gave two snorts as they passed by him. Pava, a perfect beauty, huge as a hippopotamus, with her back turned to them, prevented their seeing the calf, as she sniffed her all over.