Part 6, Chapter 27 Summary
The election of the marshal of the entire province takes place on the sixth day, and the room is overflowing with noblemen in all sorts of uniforms. Many of them came just for this day and have not seen one another in four years, since the last elections. These noblemen are grouped at various discussion tables and they grow silent when someone walks by; each group clearly has its secrets. By appearance, there are two categories of nobles: the older group in their old-fashioned (and often too tight) uniforms and the younger men, among whom are some court uniforms, as well.
But this division of young and old does not correspond with their political views, for there are both old and young nobles on both sides. Levin is standing and listening, doing his best to follow both the arguments and the politics of the discussions around him. Stepan Arkadyevitch has just finished his meal and entered the room. When he sees Levin he links his arm with Levin’s and they retreat a few steps so Stepan Arkadyevitch can explain the puzzling things Levin is hearing.
The strategy to elect a new marshal depends on all of the districts asking the old marshal to stand for re-election. If everyone asks, he will be elected without a ballot. If two districts do not ask, someone else will be put forward and that is not the plan the new party has prepared. Only one group, Sviazhsky’s, must not ask him to stand. If that happens, as planned, the old marshal will allow himself to be voted for. At that point, some nobles have even planned to vote for him so the number is large enough that the other faction will not get suspicious of their plotting.
Levin understands to some degree, but the politics are still confusing to him. He would have asked Stepan Arkadyevitch some further questions, but a sudden eruption of talk and noise comes from the great room and the two men head in to see what has happened.
Levin hears exclamations of dismay and outrage on all sides (though he is not certain what any of them mean), and he follows everyone into the big room. All the men are hurrying, and Levin is afraid he will miss something. He is being squeezed by the noblemen but finally settles into a spot near the table where Sviazhsky, the marshal of the province, and other leaders are “hotly disputing something.”