Levin had begun to feel the pangs of a sportsman's envy. He
handed the reins to Veslovsky and walked into the marsh.
Laska, who had been plaintively whining and fretting against the
injustice of her treatment, flew straight ahead to a hopeful
place that Levin knew well, and that Krak had not yet come upon.
"Why don't you stop her?" shouted Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"She won't scare them," answered Levin, sympathizing with his
bitch's pleasure and hurrying after her.
As she came nearer and nearer to the familiar breeding places
there was more and more earnestness in Laska's exploration. A
little marsh bird did not divert her attention for more than an
instant. She made one circuit round the clump of reeds, was
beginning a second, and suddenly quivered with excitement and
"Come, come, Stiva!" shouted Levin, feeling his heart beginning
to beat more violently; and all of a sudden, as though some sort
of shutter had been drawn back from his straining ears, all
sounds, confused but loud, began to beat on his hearing, losing
all sense of distance. He heard the steps of Stepan
Arkadyevitch, mistaking them for the tramp of the horses in the
distance; he heard the brittle sound of the twigs on which he had
trodden, taking this sound for the flying of a grouse. He heard
too, not far behind him, a splashing in the water, which he could
not explain to himself.
Picking his steps, he moved up to the dog.
Not a grouse but a snipe flew up from beside the dog. Levin had
lifted his gun, but at the very instant when he was taking aim,
the sound of splashing grew louder, came closer, and was joined
with the sound of Veslovsky's voice, shouting something with
strange loudness. Levin saw he had his gun pointed behind the
snipe, but still he fired.
When he had made sure he had missed, Levin looked round and saw
the horses and the wagonette not on the road but in the marsh.