Levin was standing rather far off. A nobleman breathing heavily
and hoarsely at his side, and another whose thick boots were
creaking, prevented him from hearing distinctly. He could only
hear the soft voice of the marshal faintly, then the shrill voice
of the malignant gentleman, and then the voice of Sviazhsky.
They were disputing, as far as he could make out, as to the
interpretation to be put on the act and the exact meaning of the
words: "liable to be called up for trial."
The crowd parted to make way for Sergey Ivanovitch approaching
the table. Sergey Ivanovitch, waiting till the malignant
gentleman had finished speaking, said that he thought the best
solution would be to refer to the act itself, and asked the
secretary to find the act. The act said that in case of
difference of opinion, there must be a ballot.
Sergey Ivanovitch read the act and began to explain its meaning,
but at that point a tall, stout, round-shouldered landowner, with
dyed whiskers, in a tight uniform that cut the back of his neck,
interrupted him. He went up to the table, and striking it with
his finger ring, he shouted loudly: "A ballot! Put it to the
vote! No need for more talking!" Then several voices began to
talk all at once, and the tall nobleman with the ring, getting
more and more exasperated, shouted more and more loudly. But it
was impossible to make out what he said.
He was shouting for the very course Sergey Ivanovitch had
proposed; but it was evident that he hated him and all his party,
and this feeling of hatred spread through the whole party and
roused in opposition to it the same vindictiveness, though in a
more seemly form, on the other side. Shouts were raised, and for
a moment all was confusion, so that the marshal of the province
had to call for order.