The load was tied on. Ivan jumped down and took the quiet, sleek
horse by the bridle. The young wife flung the rake up on the
load, and with a bold step, swinging her arms, she went to join
the women, who were forming a ring for the haymakers' dance.
Ivan drove off to the road and fell into line with the other
loaded carts. The peasant women, with their rakes on their
shoulders, gay with bright flowers, and chattering with ringing,
merry voices, walked behind the hay cart. One wild untrained
female voice broke into a song, and sang it alone through a
verse, and then the same verse was taken up and repeated by half
a hundred strong healthy voices, of all sorts, coarse and fine,
singing in unison.
The women, all singing, began to come close to Levin, and he felt
as though a storm were swooping down upon him with a thunder of
merriment. The storm swooped down, enveloped him and the haycock
on which he was lying, and the other haycocks, and the
wagon-loads, and the whole meadow and distant fields all seemed
to be shaking and singing to the measures of this wild merry song
with its shouts and whistles and clapping. Levin felt envious of
this health and mirthfulness; he longed to take part in the
expression of this joy of life. But he could do nothing, and had
to lie and look on and listen. When the peasants, with their
singing, had vanished out of sight and hearing, a weary feeling
of despondency at his own isolation, his physical inactivity, his
alienation from this world, came over Levin.
Some of the very peasants who had been most active in wrangling
with him over the hay, some whom he had treated with contumely,
and who had tried to cheat him, those very peasants had greeted
him goodhumoredly, and evidently had not, were incapable of
having any feeling of rancor against him, any regret, any
recollection even of having tried to deceive him. All that was
drowned in a sea of merry common labor. God gave the day, God
gave the strength. And the day and the strength were consecrated
to labor, and that labor was its own reward. For whom the labor?
What would be its fruits? These were idle considerations--
beside the point.