ANNA KARENINA

第248章

This double snipe was left for Veslovsky to follow up. Krak found it again and pointed, and Veslovsky shot it and went back to the carriages.

`Now you go and I'll stay with the horses,' he said.

Levin had begun to feel the pangs of a sportsman's envy. He handed the reins to Veslovsky and walked into the marsh.

Laska, who had been plaintively whining and fretting against the injustice of her treatment, flew straight ahead to an unfailing place, covered with mossy hummocks, that Levin knew well, and that Krak had not yet come upon.

`Why don't you stop her?' shouted Stepan Arkadyevich.

`She won't scare them,' answered Levin, sympathizing with his bitch's pleasure and hurrying after her.

As she came nearer and nearer to the familiar hummocks there was more and more earnestness in Laska's exploration. A little marsh bird did not divert her attention for more than an instant. She made one circuit round the hummocks, was beginning a second, and suddenly quivered with excitement and stood stock-still.

`Come, come, Stiva!' shouted Levin, feeling his heart beginning to beat more violently; and all of a sudden, as though some sort of shutter had been drawn back from his straining ears, all sounds, confused but loud, began to beat on his hearing, losing all sense of distance. He heard the steps of Stepan Arkadyevich, mistaking them for the tramp of the horses in the distance; he heard the brittle sound of the tussock which came off with its roots when he had trodden on a hummock, and he took this sound for the flight of a double snipe. He heard too, not far behind him, a splashing in the water, which he could not explain to himself.

Picking his steps, he moved up to the dog.

`Fetch it!'

Not a double but a jacksnipe flew up from beside the dog. Levin had lifted his gun, but at the very instant when he was taking aim, the sound of splashing grew louder, came closer, and was joined with the sound of Veslovsky's voice, shouting something with strange loudness. Levin saw he had his gun pointed behind the snipe, but still he fired.

When he had made sure he had missed, Levin looked round and saw the horses and the droshky not on the road but in the marsh.

Veslovsky, eager to see the shooting, had driven into the marsh, and got the horses stuck in the mud.

`Damn the fellow!' Levin said to himself, as he went back to the carriage that had sunk in the mire. `What did you drive in for?' he said to him dryly, and, calling the coachman he began pulling the horses out.

Levin was vexed both at being hindered from shooting and at his horses getting stuck in the mud, and still more at the fact that neither Stepan Arkadyevich nor Veslovsky helped him and the coachman to unharness the horses and get them out, since neither of them had the slightest notion of harnessing. Without answering a syllable to Vassenka's protestations that it had been quite dry there, Levin worked in silence with the coachman at extricating the horses. But then, as he got warm at the work and saw how assiduously Veslovsky was tugging at the droshky by one of the splashboards, so that he broke it indeed, Levin blamed himself for having under the influence of yesterday's feelings been too cold to Veslovsky, and tried to be particularly genial so as to smooth over his chilliness. When everything had been put right, and the vehicles had been brought back to the road, Levin had the lunch served.

` Bon appétit - bonne conscience! Ce poulet va tomber jusqu'au fond de mes bottes ,' Vassenka, who had recovered his spirits, quoted the French saying as he finished his second chicken. `Well, now our troubles are over, now everything's going to go well. Only, to atone for my sins, I'm bound to sit on the box. That's so? Eh? No, no! I'll be your Automedon. You shall see how I'll get you along,' he answered, without letting go the rein, when Levin begged him to let the coachman drive. `No, I must atone for my sins, and I'm very comfortable on the box.' And he drove.

Levin was a little afraid he would exhaust the horses, especially the left of them, the chestnut, whom he did not know how to hold in; but unconsciously he fell under the influence of his gaiety and listened to the songs he sang all the way on the box, or the descriptions and representations he gave of driving in the English fashion, four-in-hand; and it was in the very best of spirits that after lunch they drove to the Gvozdiov marsh.

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TOLSTOY: Anna Karenina Part 6, Chapter 10[Previous Chapter] [Table of Contents] Chapter 10 Vassenka drove the horses so fast that they reached the marsh too early, while it was still hot.

As they drew near this more important marsh, the chief aim of their expedition, Levin could not help considering how he could get rid of Vassenka and be free in his movements. Stepan Arkadyevich evidently had the same desire, and on his face Levin saw the look of anxiety always present in a true sportsman when beginning shooting, together with a certain good-humored slyness peculiar to him.

`How shall we go? It's a splendid marsh, I see, and there are hawks,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, pointing to two great birds hovering over the sedge. `Where there are hawks, there is sure to be game.'

`Now, gentlemen,' said Levin, pulling up his boots and examining the lock of his gun with a somewhat somber expression, `do you see that sedge?' He pointed to an oasis of blackish green in the huge half-mown wet meadow that stretched along the right bank of the river. `The marsh begins here, straight in front of us, do you see - where it is greener?

From here it runs to the right where the horses are; there are hummocks there, and double snipe, and all round that sedge as far as that alder tree, and right up to the mill. Over there, do you see, where the creek is? That's the best place. There I once shot seventeen jacksnipe. We'll separate with the dogs and go in different directions, and then meet over there at the mill.'

`Well, who'll go left, and who to the right?' asked Stepan Arkadyevich.

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