Part 3, Chapter 25 Summary
Levin drives to his friend Nikolay Ivanovitch Sviazhsky’s estate in his carriage, as it is remote and inaccessible by any other means. Halfway through his journey, he stops to water his horses at the home of a well-to-do peasant. After he directs the coachman where to care for the horses, the old peasant invites Levin into his parlor. A young, cleanly dressed woman, barefoot and in clogs, is washing the floor. She shrieks in fear at the dog that appears behind Levin but then laughs at her reaction after she is told the dog is harmless. She points Levin to the parlor and resumes her scrubbing.
The room is well appointed and so neat that Levin is afraid his dog will muddy the floor. Levin orders her into a spot in a corner of the room. After looking around a bit, Levin goes into the backyard where he finds the woman in clogs swinging empty pails on a yoke on her way to the well. The peasant man meets Levin there and begins talking about his own acquaintance with Levin’s friend. In the middle of his story, workers from the fields enter the yard through a squeaking gate.
The horses are well fed and sleek, and it is clear these laborers are connected to this house. There are two young men, his sons, and two hired laborers. Moving away, Levin’s host begins to unharness the horses. Soon women young and old as well as children, members of the man’s family, begin to converge for their dinner. Levin invites his host to join him for tea from the food he has brought with him, and the peasant is pleased to accept the offer.
The two men talk about farming, and Levin is impressed with the peasant’s prosperity and even some of the advanced farming techniques he is using. It is clear the man is justifiably proud of his accomplishments, his family, his prosperity, and his success at farming. Levin is especially impressed that this peasant farmer has found a way to use some of his thinned-out grains for fodder rather than wasting them, something Levin has long tried to do without success.
Levin explains that he and other landowners are limited by the quality and number of their laborers. The peasant landowner explains that though he does hire a few laborers, they are all peasants together; that is what makes all the difference, he concludes.
When he goes back through the house to call for his coachman, Levin sees the entire family eating dinner and laughing merrily. The clog-wearing woman who had been scrubbing the floor is the merriest of all. As he continues his journey, Levin cannot forget what he saw at that peasant farm. He feels it is something he may never forget, as if there were something about his impressions which demand special attention from him.