Levin walked into the room, received a white ball, and followed
his brother, Sergey Ivanovitch, to the table where Sviazhsky was
standing with a significant and ironical face, holding his beard
in his fist and sniffing at it. Sergey Ivanovitch put his hand
into the box, put the ball somewhere, and making room for Levin,
stopped. Levin advanced, but utterly forgetting what he was to
do, and much embarrassed, he turned to Sergey Ivanovitch with the
question, "Where am I to put it?" He asked this softly, at a
moment when there was talking going on near, so that he had hoped
his question would not be overheard. But the persons speaking
paused, and his improper question was overheard. Sergey
"That is a matter for each man's own decision," he said severely.
Several people smiled. Levin crimsoned, hurriedly thrust his
hand under the cloth, and put the ball to the right as it was in
his right hand. Having put it in, he recollected that he ought
to have thrust his left hand too, and so he thrust it in though
too late, and, still more overcome with confusion, he beat a
hasty retreat into the background.
"A hundred and twenty-six for admission! Ninety-eight against!"
sang out the voice of the secretary, who could not pronounce the
letter r. Then there was a laugh; a button and two nuts were
found in the box. The nobleman was allowed the right to vote,
and the new party had conquered.
But the old party did not consider themselves conquered. Levin
heard that they were asking Snetkov to stand, and he saw that a
crowd of noblemen was surrounding the marshal, who was saying
something. Levin went nearer. In reply Snetkov spoke of the
trust the noblemen of the province had placed in him, the
affection they had shown him, which he did not deserve, as his
only merit had been his attachment to the nobility, to whom he
had devoted twelve years of service. Several times he repeated
the words: "I have served to the best of my powers with truth and
good faith, I value your goodness and thank you," and suddenly he
stopped short from the tears that choked him, and went out of the
room. Whether these tears came from a sense of the injustice
being done him, from his love for the nobility, or from the
strain of the position he was placed in, feeling himself
surrounded by enemies, his emotion infected the assembly, the
majority were touched, and Levin felt a tenderness for Snetkov.