In the early days, after his return from Moscow, whenever Levin shuddered and grew red, remembering the disgrace of his rejection, he would say to himself: `This was just how I used to shudder and blush, thinking everything utterly lost, when I was flunked in physics and did not get promoted; and this is also how I thought myself utterly ruined after I had mismanaged that affair of my sister's with which I had been entrusted. And yet, now that the years have passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so much. It will be the same thing with this trouble as well. Time will go by, and I shall not mind this either.'
But three months had passed and he had not left off minding about it; and it was as painful for him to think of it now as it had been during those first days. He could not be at peace because, after dreaming so long of family life, and feeling himself so ripe for it, he was still not married, and was farther than ever from marriage. He was painfully conscious himself, as were all about him, that at his years it is not good that man should be alone. He remembered how before starting for Moscow he had once said to his cowherd Nicolai, a simplehearted peasant, to whom he liked to talk: `Well, Nicolai! I mean to get married,' and how Nicolai had promptly answered, as of a matter on which there could be no possible doubt: `And high time too, Konstantin Dmitrich.' But marriage had now become farther off than ever. The place was taken, and whenever he tried to imagine any of the girls he knew in that place, he felt that it was utterly impossible. Moreover, the recollection of the rejection and the part he had played in the affair tortured him with shame. However often he told himself that he was in no wise to blame in it, that recollection, like other similarly humiliating recollections, made him wince and blush. There had been in his past, as in every man's, actions, recognized by him as bad, for which his conscience ought to have tormented him; but the recollection of these evil actions was far from causing him as much suffering as these trivial but humiliating recollections. These wounds never healed. And with these recollections was now ranged his rejection and the sorry plight in which he must have appeared to others that evening. Yet time and labor were doing their work. Bitter recollections were more and more being covered up by the incidents - inconspicuous ones, but important - of his country life. Every week he thought less often of Kitty. He was impatiently looking forward to the news that she was married, or just going to be married, hoping that such news would, like having a tooth out, completely cure him.
Meanwhile spring came on, beautiful and kindly, without the delays and treacheries incident to spring - one of those rare springs in which plants, beasts and man rejoice alike. This lovely spring roused Levin still more, and strengthened him in his resolution of renouncing all his past and building up his lonely life firmly and independently. Though many of the plans with which he had returned to the country had not been carried out, his most important resolution - that of purity of life - had nevertheless been kept by him. He was free from that shame which had usually harassed him after a fall; and he could look everyone straight in the face. In February he had received a letter from Marya Nikolaevna telling him that his brother Nikolai's health was getting worse, but that he would not take advice, and in consequence of this letter Levin went to Moscow to his brother's, and succeeded in persuading him to see a doctor and to go to a watering place abroad. He succeeded so well in persuading his brother, and in lending him money for the journey without irritating him, that he was satisfied with himself on that score. In addition to his farming, which called for special attention in spring, in addition to reading Levin had begun that winter a work on agriculture, the plan of which turned on taking into account the character of the laborer on the land as one of the unalterable data of the question, like the climate and the soil, and consequently deducing all the principles of scientific culture, not simply from the data of soil and climate, but from the data of soil, climate and a certain unalterable character of the laborer. Thus, in spite of his solitude, or in consequence of his solitude, life was exceedingly full, save that, on rare occasions, he suffered from an unsatisfied desire to communicate his stray ideas to someone besides Agathya Mikhailovna. With her indeed he not infrequently fell into discussions upon physics, the theory of agriculture, and, especially, philosophy: philosophy was Agathya Mikhailovna's favorite subject.
Spring was slow in unfolding. For the last few weeks of Lent it had been steadily fine and frosty weather. In the daytime there was a thaw in the sun, but at night there were as many as seven degrees of frost. The snow was so packed and frozen that loads could be carried along anywhere, regardless of roads. Easter came in snow. Then all of a sudden, on Easter Monday, a warm wind sprang up, storm clouds swooped down, and for three days and three nights the warm, tempestuous rain fell in torrents. On Thursday the wind dropped, and a thick gray fog brooded over the land, as though screening the mysteries of the transformations that were being wrought in nature. Behind the fog there was the flowing of water, the cracking and floating of ice, the swift rush of turbid, foaming torrents; and on the following Monday, in the evening, the fog parted, the storm clouds split up into little curling crests of cloud, the sky cleared, and the real spring had come. In the morning the sun arose brilliant and quickly wore away the thin layer of ice that covered the water, and all the warm air was quivering with the steam that rose up from the quickened earth. The old grass looked greener, and the young grass thrust up its tiny blades; the buds of the guelder-rose and of the currant, and the sticky birch buds were swollen with sap, and an exploring bee was humming about the golden blossoms that studded the willow. Larks trilled unseen above the velvety green fields and the ice-covered stubble land; pewits wailed over the lowlands and marshes, flooded by the pools; cranes and wild geese flew high across the sky uttering their spring calls. The cattle, bald in patches where the new hair had not grown yet, lowed in the pastures; bowlegged lambs frisked round their bleating dams, who were shedding their fleece; nimble-footed children ran along the drying paths, covered with the prints of bare feet; there was a merry chatter of peasant women over their linen at the pond, and the ring of axes in the yard, where the peasants were repairing plows and harrows. The real spring had come.