Levin smiled contemptuously. "I know," he thought, "that fashion
not only in him, but in all city people, who, after being twice
in ten years in the country, pick up two or three phrases and use
them in season and out of season, firmly persuaded that they know
all about it. 'Timber, run to so many yards the acre.' He says
those words without understanding them himself."
"I wouldn't attempt to teach you what you write about in your
office," said he, "and if need arose, I should come to you to ask
about it. But you're so positive you know all the lore of the
forest. It's difficult. Have you counted the trees?"
"How count the trees?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing, still
trying to draw his friend out of his ill-temper. "Count the
sands of the sea, number the stars. Some higher power might do
"Oh, well, the higher power of Ryabinin can. Not a single
merchant ever buys a forest without counting the trees, unless
they get it given them for nothing, as you're doing now. I know
your forest. I go there every year shooting, and your forest's
worth a hundred and fifty roubles and acre paid down, while he's
giving you sixty by installments. So that in fact you're making
him a present of thirty thousand."
"Come, don't let your imagination run away with you," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch piteously. "Why was it none would give it, then?"
"Why, because he has an understanding with the merchants; he's
bought them off. I've had to do with all of them; I know them.
They're not merchants, you know: they're speculators. He
wouldn't look at a bargain that gave him ten, fifteen per cent
profit, but holds back to buy a rouble's worth for twenty
"Well, enough of it! You're out of temper."
"Not the least," said Levin gloomily, as they drove up to the