The house was big and old-fashioned, and Levin, though he lived
alone, had the whole house heated and used. He knew that this
was stupid, he knew that it was positively not right, and
contrary to his present new plans, but this house was a whole
world to Levin. It was the world in which his father and mother
had lived and died. They had lived just the life that to Levin
seemed the ideal of perfection, and that he had dreamed of
beginning with his wife, his family.
Levin scarcely remembered his mother. His conception of her was
for him a sacred memory, and his future wife was bound to be in
his imagination a repetition of that exquisite, holy ideal of a
woman that his mother had been.
He was so far from conceiving of love for woman apart from
marriage that he positively pictured to himself first the family,
and only secondarily the woman who would give him a family. His
ideas of marriage were, consequently, quite unlike those of the
great majority of his acquaintances, for whom getting married was
one of the numerous facts of social life. For Levin it was the
chief affair of life, on which its whole happiness turned. And
now he had to give up that.
When he had gone into the little drawing room, where he always
had tea, and had settled himself in his armchair with a book ,
and Agafea Mihalovna had brought him tea, and with her usual,
"Well, I'll stay a while, sir," had taken a chair in the window,
he felt that, however strange it might be, he had not parted from
his daydreams, and that he could not live without them. Whether
with her, or with another, still it would be. He was reading a
book, and thinking of what he was reading, and stopping to listen
to Agafea Mihalovna, who gossiped away without flagging, and yet
with all that, all sorts of pictures of family life and work in
the future rose disconnectedly before his imagination. He felt
that in the depth of his soul something had been put in its
place, settled down, and laid to rest.