The Mashkin Upland was mown, the last swaths finished, the peasants had put on their coats and were gaily trudging home. Levin got on his horse, and, parting regretfully from the peasants, rode homeward. On the hillside he looked back; he could not see them in the mist that had risen from the valley; he could only hear their rough, good-humored voices, their laughter, and the sound of clanking scythes.
Sergei Ivanovich had long ago finished dinner, and was drinking iced lemonade in his own room, looking through the reviews and papers which he had just received by post, when Levin rushed into the room, talking merrily, with his wet and matted hair sticking to his forehead, and his back and chest grimed and moist.
"We mowed the whole meadow! Oh, it is fine, wonderful! And how have you been getting on?" said Levin, completely forgetting the disagreeable conversation of the previous day.
"Dear me! What you look like!" said Sergei Ivanovich, for the first moment looking round with some dissatisfaction. "And the door- do shut the door!" he cried. "You must have let in a dozen at least."
Sergei Ivanovich could not endure flies, and in his own room he never opened the window except at night, and carefully kept the door shut.
"Not one, on my honor. But if I have, I'll catch them. You wouldn't believe what a pleasure mowing is! How have you spent the day?"
"Very well. But have you really been mowing the whole day? I expect you're as hungry as a wolf. Kouzma has got everything ready for you."
"No, I don't feel hungry even. I had something to eat there. But I'll go and wash."
"Yes, go along, go along, and I'll come to you directly," said Sergei Ivanovich, shaking his head as he looked at his brother. "Go along, make haste," he added smiling, and, gathering up his books, he prepared to go too. He, too, felt suddenly good-humored and disinclined to leave his brother's side. "But what did you do while it was raining?"
"Rain? Why, there was scarcely a drop. I'll come directly. So you had a good day too? That's first-rate." And Levin went off to change his clothes.
Five minutes later the brothers met in the dining room. Although it seemed to Levin that he was not hungry, and he sat down to dinner simply so as not to hurt Kouzma's feelings, yet when he began to eat the dinner struck him as extraordinarily good. Sergei Ivanovich watched him with a smile.
"Oh, by the way, there's a letter for you," said he. "Kouzma, bring it from below, please. And mind you shut the doors."
The letter was from Oblonsky. Levin read it aloud. Oblonsky wrote to him from Peterburg: "I have had a letter from Dolly; she's at Ergushovo, and everything seems going wrong there. Do ride over and see her, please; help her with advice; you know all about it. She will be so glad to see you. She's quite alone, poor thing. My mother-in-law and all of them are still abroad."
"That's capital! I will certainly ride over to her," said Levin. "Or we'll go together. She's such a good woman, isn't she?"
"They're not far from here, then?"
"Thirty verstas. Or perhaps forty. But a capital road. It will be a capital drive."
"I shall be delighted," said Sergei Ivanovich, still smiling.
The sight of his younger brother's appearance had immediately put him in a good humor.
"Well, you have an appetite!" he said, looking at his dark-red, sunburned face and neck bent over the plate.
"Splendid! You can't imagine what an effective remedy it is for every sort of foolishness. I want to enrich medicine with a new word: Arbeitskur."
"Well, but you don't need it, I should fancy."
"No- but for all sorts of nervous invalids."
"Yes, it ought to be tried. I had meant to come to the mowing to look at you, but it was so unbearably hot that I got no further than the forest. I sat there a little, and went on by the forest to the village, met your old nurse, and sounded her as to the peasant's view of you. As far as I can make out, they don't approve of this. She said: 'It's not a gentleman's work.' Altogether, I fancy that in the people's ideas there are very clear and definite notions of certain, as they call it, 'gentlemanly' lines of action. And they don't sanction the gentlefolk's moving outside bounds clearly laid down in their ideas."
"Maybe so; but anyway, it's a pleasure such as I have never known in my life. And there's no harm in it, you know. Is there?" answered Levin. "I can't help it if they don't like it. Though I do believe it's all right. Eh?"
"Altogether," pursued Sergei Ivanovich, "you're satisfied with your day?"
"Quite satisfied. We cut the whole meadow. And I made friends with such a splendid old man there! You can't fancy how delightful he was!"
"Well, so you're satisfied with your day. And so am I. First, I solved two chess problems, and one a very pretty one- a pawn opening. I'll show it to you. And then- I thought over our conversation of yesterday."
"Eh! Our conversation of yesterday?" said Levin, blissfully dropping his eyelids and drawing deep breaths after finishing his dinner, and absolutely incapable of recalling what their conversation of yesterday had been about.
"I think you are partly right. Our difference of opinion amounts to this: that you make the mainspring self-interest, while I contend that interest in the common weal is bound to exist in every man of a certain degree of advancement. Possibly you are right too- that action founded on material interest would be more desirable. You are altogether, as the French say, too prime-sautiere a nature; you must have intense, energetic action, or nothing."
Levin listened to his brother and did not understand a single word, and did not want to understand. He was only afraid his brother might ask him some question which would make it evident he had not heard.
"So that's what I think it is, my dear boy," said Sergei Ivanovich, touching him on the shoulder.
"Yes, of course. But, do you know? I won't stand up for my view," answered Levin, with a guilty, childlike smile. "Whatever was it I was disputing about?" he wondered. "Of course, I'm right, and he's right, and it's all first-rate. Only I must go round to the countinghouse and see to things." He got up, stretching and smiling.
Sergei Ivanovich smiled too.
"If you want to go out, let's go together," he said, disinclined to be parted from his brother, who seemed positively breathing out freshness and energy. "Come, we'll go to the countinghouse, if you have to go there."
"Oh, heavens!" shouted Levin, so loudly that Sergei Ivanovich was quite frightened.
"What, what is the matter?
"How's Agathya Mikhailovna's hand?" said Levin, slapping himself on the head. "I'd positively forgotten her."
"It's much better."
"Well, anyway, I'll run down to her. Before you've time to get your hat on, I'll be back."
And he ran downstairs, clattering with his heels like a spring rattle.