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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAnna Karenina - Part six - Chapter 12
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Anna Karenina - Part six - Chapter 12 Post by :stevepennington Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :January 2011 Read :3307

Click below to download : Anna Karenina - Part six - Chapter 12 (Format : PDF)

Anna Karenina - Part six - Chapter 12

Waking up at earliest dawn, Levin tried to wake his companions.
Vassenka, Iying on his stomach, with one leg in a stocking thrust
out, was sleeping so soundly that he could elicit no response.
Oblonsky, half asleep, declined to get up so early. Even Laska,
who was asleep, curled up in the hay, got up unwillingly, and
lazily stretched out and straightened her hind-legs one after the
other. Getting on his boots and stockings, taking his gun, and
carefully opening the creaking door of the barn, Levin went out
into the road. The coachmen were sleeping in their carriages, the
horses were dozing. Only one was lazily eating oats, dipping its
nose into the manger. It was still gray out-of-doors.

"Why are you up so early, my dear?" the old woman, their hostess,
said, coming out of the hut and addressing him affectionately as
an old friend.

"Going shooting, granny. Do I go this way to the marsh?"

"Straight out at the back; by our threshing-floor, my dear, and
hemp-patches; there's a little footpath." Stepping carefully
with her sunburnt, bare feet, the old woman conducted Levin, and
moved back the fence for him by the threshing-floor.

"Straight on and you'll come to the marsh. Our lads drove the
cattle there yesterday evening."

Laska ran eagerly forward along the little path. Levin followed
her with a light, rapid step, continually looking at the sky. He
hoped the sun would not be up before he reached the marsh. But
the sun did not delay. The moon, which had been bright when he
went out, by now shone only like a crescent of quicksilver. The
pink flush of dawn, which one could not help seeing before, now
had to be sought to be discerned at all. What were before
undefined, vague blurs in the distant countryside could now be
distinctly seen. They were sheaves of rye. The dew, not visible
till the sun was up, wetted Levin's legs and his blouse above his
belt in the highgrowing, fragrant hemp-patch, from which the
pollen had already fallen out. In the transparent stillness of
morning the smallest sounds were audible. A bee flew by Levin's
ear with the whizzing sound of a bullet. He looked carefully, and
saw a second and a third. They were all flying from the beehives
behind the hedge, and they disappeared over the hemppatch in the
direction of the marsh. The path led straight to the marsh. The
marsh could be recognized by the mist which rose from it, thicker
in one place and thinner in another, so that the reeds and
willow- bushes swayed like islands in this mist. At the edge of
the marsh and the road, peasant boys and men, who had been
herding for the night, were Iying, and in the dawn all were
asleep under their coats. Not far from them were three hobbled
horses. One of them clanked a chain. Laska walked beside her
master, pressing a little forward and looking round. Passing the
sleeping peasants and reaching the first reeds, Levin examined
his pistols and let his dog off. One of the horses, a sleek,
dark-brown threeyear-old, seeing the dog, started away, switched
its tail and snorted. The other horses too were frightened, and
splashing through the water with their hobbled legs, and drawing
their hoofs out of the thick mud with a squelching sound, they
bounded out of the marsh. Laska stopped, looking ironically at
the horses and inquiringly at Levin. Levin patted Laska, and
whistled as a sign that she might begin.

Laska ran joyfully and anxiously through the slush that swayed
under her.

Running into the marsh among the familiar scents of roots, marsh
plants, and slime, and the extraneous smell of horse dung, Laska
detected at once a smell that pervaded the whole marsh, the scent
of that strong- smelling bird that always excited her more than
any other. Here and there among the moss and marsh plants this
scent was very strong, but it was impossible to determine in
which direction it grew stronger or fainter. To find the
direction, she had to go farther away from the wind. Not feeling
the motion of her legs, Laska bounded with a stiff gallop, so
that at each bound she could stop short, to the right, away from
the wind that blew from the east before sunrise, and turned
facing the wind. Sniffing in the air with dilated nostrils, she
felt at once that not their tracks only but they themselves were
here before her, and not one, but many. Laska slackened her
speed. They were here, but where precisely she could not yet
determine. To find the very spot, she began to make a circle,
when suddenly her master's voice drew her off. "Laska! here?" he
asked, pointing her to a different direction. She stopped, asking
him if she had better not go on doing as she had begun. But he
repeated his command in an angry voice, pointing to a spot
covered with water, where there could not be anything. She obeyed
him, pretending she was looking, so as to please him, went round
it, and went back to her former position, and was at once aware
of the scent again. Now when he was not hindering her, she knew
what to do, and without looking at what was under her feet, and
to her vexation stumbling over a high stump into the water, but
righting herself with her strong, supple legs, she began making
the circle which was to make all clear to her. The scent of them
reached her, stronger and stronger, and more and more defined,
and all at once it became perfectly clear to her that one of them
was here, behind this tuft of reeds, five paces in front of her;
she stopped, and her whole body was still and rigid. On her short
legs she could see nothing in front of her, but by the scent she
knew it was sitting not more than five paces off. She stood
still, feeling more and more conscious of it, and enjoying it in
anticipation. Her tail was stretched straight and tense, and only
wagging at the extreme end. Her mouth was slightly open, her ears
raised. One ear had been turned wrong side out as she ran up, and
she breathed heavily but warily, and still more warily looked
round, but more with her eyes than her head, to her master. He
was coming along with the face she knew so well, though the eyes
were always terrible to her. He stumbled over the stump as he
came, and moved, as she thought, extraordinarily slowly. She
thought he came slowly, but he was running.

Noticing Laska's special attitude as she crouched on the ground,
as it were, scratching big prints with her hind paws, and with
her mouth slightly open, Levin knew she was pointing at grouse,
and with an inward prayer for luck, especially with the first
bird, he ran up to her. Coming quite close up to her, he could
from his height look beyond her, and he saw with his eyes what
she was seeing with her nose. In a space between two little
thickets, to a couple of yards' distance, he could see a
grouse. Turning its head, it was listening. Then lightly preening
and folding its wings, it disappeared round a corner with a
clumsy wag of its tail.

"Fetch it, fetch it!" shouted Levin, giving Laska a shove from
behind.

"But I can't go," thought Laska. "Where am I to go? From here I
feel them, but if I move forward I shall know nothing of where
they are or who they are." But then he shoved her with his knee,
and in an excited whisper said, "Fetch it, Laska."

"Well, if that's what he wishes, I'll do it, but I can't answer
for myself now," she thought, and darted forward as fast as her
legs would carry her between the thick bushes. She scented
nothing now; she could only see and hear, without understanding
anything.

Ten paces from her former place a grouse rose with a guttural cry
and the peculiar round sound of its wings. And immediately after
the shot it splashed heavily with its white breast on the wet
mire. Another bird did not linger, but rose behind Levin without
the dog. When Levin turned towards it, it was already some way
off. But his shot caught it. Flying twenty paces further, the
second grouse rose upwards, and whirling round like a ball,
dropped heavily on a dry place.

"Come, this is going to be some good!" thought Levin, packing the
warm and fat grouse into his game-bag. "Eh, Laska, will it be
good?"

When Levin, after loading his gun, moved on, the sun had fully
risen, though unseen behind the storm-clouds. The moon had lost
all of its luster, and was like a white cloud in the sky. Not a
single star could be seen. The sedge, silvery with dew before,
now shone like gold. The stagnant pools were all like amber. The
blue of the grass had changed to yellow-green.The marsh-birds
twittered and swarmed about the brook and upon the bushes that
glittered with dew and cast long shadows. A hawk woke up and
settled on a haycock, turning its head from side to side and
looking discontentedly at the marsh. Crows were flying about the
field, and a bare-legged boy was driving the horses to an old
man, who had got up from under his long coat and was combing his
hair. The smoke from the gun was white as milk over the green of
the grass.

One of the boys ran up to Levin.

"Uncle, there were ducks here yesterday!" he shouted to him, and
he walked a little way off behind him.

And Levin was doubly pleased, in sight of the boy, who expressed
his approval, at killing three snipe, one after another, straight
off.

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The sportsman's saying, that if the first beast or the first birdis not missed, the day will be lucky, turned out correct.At ten o'clock Levin, weary, hungry, and happy after a tramp oftwenty miles, returned to his night's lodging with nineteen headof fine game and one duck, which he tied to his belt, as it wouldnot go into the game-bag. His companions had long been awake, andhad had time to get hungry and have breakfast."Wait a bit, wait a bit, I know there are nineteen," said Levin,counting a second time over the grouse and snipe, that looked somuch less important now,
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When Levin and Stepan Arkadyevitch reached the peasant's hutwhere Levin always used to stay, Veslovsky was already there. Hewas sitting in the middle of the hut, clinging with both hands tothe bench from which he was being pulled by a soldier, thebrother of the peasant's wife, who was helping him off with hismiry boots. Veslovsky was laughing his infectious, good-humoredlaugh."I've only just come. Ils ont ete charmants. Just fancy, theygave me drink, fed me! Such bread, it was exquisite! Delicieux!And the vodka, I never tasted any better. And they would not takea penny for anything. And they kept saying: 'Excuse our
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