In the morning Konstantin Levin left Moscow, and toward evening he reached home. On the journey in the train he talked to his fellow travelers about politics and the new railways, and, just as in Moscow, he was overcome by a sense of confusion of ideas, by dissatisfaction with himself, and shame of something or other. But when he got out at his own station, when he saw his one-eyed coachman Ignat, with the collar of his coat turned up; when, in the dim light falling through the station windows, he saw his own carpeted sledge, his own horses with their tails up, in their harness trimmed with rings and tassels; when the coachman Ignat, as he put in his luggage, told him the village news - that the contractor had arrived, and that Pava had calved - he felt that little by little the confusion was clearing up, and the shame and self-dissatisfaction were passing away. He felt this at the mere sight of Ignat and the horses; but he began to see what had happened to him in quite a different light, when he had put on the sheepskin coat brought for him, and, all muffled up, had taken his seat in the sleigh and started off, pondering on the work that lay before him in the village, and staring at the off horse, that had been formerly his saddle horse, overridden, but a spirited animal from the Don. He felt himself, and did not want to be anyone else. All he wanted now was to be better than before. In the first place, he resolved that from that day on he would give up hoping for the extraordinary happiness which the marriage was to afford him, and consequently he would not disdain the present so. In the second place, he would never again let himself give way to low passion, the memory of which had so tortured him when he had been making up his mind to propose. Then, remembering his brother Nikolai, he resolved that he would never allow himself to forget him, that he would watch him, and not lose sight of him, so as to be ready to help should things go ill with him. And that would be soon, he felt. Then, too, his brother's talk of communism, which he had treated so lightly at the time, now made him reflect. He considered an alteration in economic conditions nonsense; yet he had always felt the injustice of his own abundance in comparison with the poverty of the common folk, and he now determined that, in order to feel quite in the right, though he had worked hard and lived by no means luxuriously before, he would now work still harder, and would allow himself even less luxury. And all this seemed to him so easy a conquest over himself that he spent the whole drive in most pleasant reveries. With a lively feeling of hope in a new, better life, he drove up to his house about nine o'clock at night.
The snow of the little quadrangle before the house was lit up by light falling from the windows in the room of his old nurse, Agathya Mikhailovna, who performed the duties of housekeeper in his house. She was not yet asleep. Kouzma, awakened by her, sleepy and barefooted, ran out onto the steps. A setter bitch, Laska, leaped out too, almost upsetting Kouzma, and whining, rubbed against Levin's knees, jumping up and longing, yet not daring, to put her forepaws on his chest.
`You're soon returned, my dear,' said Agathya Mikhailovna.
`I grew homesick, Agathya Mikhailovna. East or West, home is best,' he answered, and went into his study.
The study was gradually lit up as the candle was brought in. The familiar details came out: the stag's horns; the bookshelves; the plain stove with its warm-hole, which had long wanted mending; his father's sofa, a large table, and, on the table, an open book, a broken ash tray, a notebook 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 lapses, and everlasting expectation of a happiness which you won't get, and which isn't possible for you.'
But it was his things that said this to him, while 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 dumbbells, of one pood each, and began jerking and pushing them up, trying to induce a state of well-being. There was a creak of steps at the door. He hastily put down the dumbbells.
The bailiff came in, and said that everything, thank God, was well, but also 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 this 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 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 coat. And you, do tell them to fetch a lantern - I'm going to have a 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 came a warm, steamy smell of dung when the frozen door was opened, and the cows, astonished at the unfamiliar light of the lantern, stirred on their fresh straw. He caught a glimpse of the broad, smooth, black and piebald back of a Dutch cow. 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, the reddish beauty, huge as a hippopotamus, with her back turned to them, screened her calf from the arrivals and sniffed it all over.
Levin went into the stall, looked Pava over, and hefted the reddish and red-dappled calf up on its unsteady, spindly legs. Pava, uneasy, began lowing, but when Levin put the calf close to her she was soothed, and, sighing heavily, began licking her with her rough tongue. The calf fumbling, poked its nose under its mother's groin, and twirled its tiny tail.
`Bring the light here, Fiodor - bring the lantern here,' said Levin, examining the heifer. `Like the dam! though the color takes after the sire. A perfect beauty! Long, and broad in the haunch. Isn't she a beauty now, Vassilii Fiodorovich?' he addressed the bailiff, quite forgiving him for the buckwheat under the influence of his delight in the heifer.
`What bad blood could she take after? - Semion the contractor came the day after you left. You must settle with him, Konstantin Dmitrich,' said the bailiff. `And I have already told you about the machine.'
This matter alone was enough to bring Levin back to all the details of his estate, which was on a large scale, and complicated. He went straight from the cowhouse to the countinghouse, and, after a short talk with the bailiff and Semion the contractor, he went back to the house and straight upstairs to the drawing room.