"Why is it all being done?" he thought. "Why am I standing here,
making them work? What are they all so busy for, trying to show
their zeal before me? What is that old Matrona, my old friend,
toiling for? (I doctored her, when the beam fell on her in the
fire)" he thought, looking at a thin old woman who was raking up
the grain, moving painfully with her bare, sun-blackened feet
over the uneven, rough floor. "Then she recovered, but today or
tomorrow or in ten years she won't; they'll bury her, and
nothing will be left either of her or of that smart girl in the
red jacket, who with that skillful, soft action shakes the ears
out of their husks. They'll bury her and this piebald horse, and
very soon too," he thought, gazing at the heavily moving, panting
horse that kept walking up the wheel that turned under him. "And
they will bury her and Fyodor the thrasher with his curly beard
full of chaff and his shirt torn on his white shoulders--they
will bury him. He's untying the sheaves, and giving orders, and
shouting to the women, and quickly setting straight the strap on
the moving wheel. And what's more, it's not them alone--me
they'll bury too, and nothing will be left. What for?"
He thought this, and at the same time looked at his watch to
reckon how much they thrashed in an hour. He wanted to know this
so as to judge by it the task to set for the day.
"It'll soon be one, and they're only beginning the third sheaf,"
thought Levin. He went up to the man that was feeding the
machine, and shouting over the roar of the machine he told him to
put it in more slowly. "You put in too much at a time, Fyodor.
Do you see--it gets choked, that's why it isn't getting on. Do
Fyodor, black with the dust that clung to his moist face, shouted
something in response, but still went on doing it as Levin did
not want him to.
Levin, going up to the machine, moved Fyodor aside, and began
feeding the corn in himself. Working on till the peasants'
dinner hour, which was not long in coming, he went out of the
barn with Fyodor and fell into talk with him, stopping beside a
neat yellow sheaf of rye laid on the thrashing floor for seed.