The narrow room, in which they were smoking and taking refresh~
ments, was full of noblemen. The excitement grew more intense,
and every face betrayed some uneasiness. The excitement was
specially keen for the leaders of each party, who knew every
detail, and had reckoned up every vote. They were the generals
organizing the approaching battle. The rest, like the rank and
file before an engagement, though they were getting ready for the
fight, sought for other distractions in the interval. Some were
lunching, standing at the bar, or sitting at the table; others
were walking up and down the long room, smoking cigarettes, and
talking with friends whom they had not seen for a long while.
Levin did not care to eat, and he was not smoking; he did not
want to join his own friends, that is Sergey Ivanovitch, Stepan
Arkadyevitch, Sviazhsky and the rest, because Vronsky in his
equerry's uniform was standing with them in eager conversation.
Levin had seen him already at the meeting on the previous day,
and he had studiously avoided him, not caring to greet him. He
went to the window and sat down, scanning the groups, and
listening to what was being said around him. He felt depressed,
especially because everyone else was, as he saw, eager, anxious,
and interested, and he alone, with an old, toothless little man
with mumbling lips wearing a naval uniform, sitting beside him,
had no interest in it and nothing to do.
"He's such a blackguard! I have told him so, but it makes no
difference. Only think of it! He couldn't collect it in three
years!" he heard vigorously uttered by a round-shouldered, short,
country gentleman, who had pomaded hair hanging on his
embroidered collar, and new boots obviously put on for the
occasion, with heels that tapped energetically as he spoke.
Casting a displeased glance at Levin, this gentleman sharply
turned his back.
"Yes, it's a dirty business, there's no denying," a small
gentleman assented in a high voice.
Next, a whole crowd of country gentlemen, surrounding a stout
general, hurriedly came near Levin. These persons were
unmistakably seeking a place where they could talk without being
"How dare he say I had his breeches stolen! Pawned them for
drink, I expect. Damn the fellow, prince indeed! He'd better
not say it, the beast!"