Anna Karenina Part 6, Chapters 12-13 Summary

Leo Tolstoy

Part 6, Chapters 12-13 Summary

Levin tries to wake his companions very early but has no success, so he dresses and goes out to hunt on his own. Laska runs eagerly ahead of him and Levin enjoys a pleasant but dewy walk to reach the marshes. He lets Laska run, and soon she is excited at the scent of the bird she loves most to find in the marshes. Though she cannot find them right away, the dog starts to circle the area in which she senses them. Suddenly her master calls her off and points her in another direction. Laska is confused because the spot to which he points is covered with water and there could be nothing there.

Levin repeats his command in an angry voice and Laska obeys. Now that she is redirected, Laska picks up the scent again until she knows exactly where the bird is. Suddenly she stops and her body grows rigid and still, her tail straight and tense. She uses only her eyes to look for her master. He seems to her to be coming slowly, but Levin is running toward her. Laska sees the expression on his face, one she knows well and with the eyes which are always terrible to her. Laska crouches and scratches the ground with her back paws, and Levin knows she is pointing at the grouse for him.

With a prayer for luck, Levin approaches and now, several yards away, he can see what his hunting dog sees: a grouse nestled in the space between two small thickets. The bird turns its head, listening, and then it disappears around the corner of the thicket. Levin shouts at Laska to fetch the bird and gives her a shove from behind, but Laska knows that if she moves forward she will not know where the birds are. When her master insists, she goes, though she is aware that she may not be successful.

Laska races into the thicket but she can scent nothing now; she can only see and hear, without any understanding. Ten paces from where she was before, the grouse rises from the ground with a guttural cry and the distinct sound of it wings. After the shot, it drops immediately onto the wet mire. Another bird rises behind Levin, and soon it, too, is plummeting to the ground.

Levin tells Laska they are going to have a good hunting session as he places the warm birds in his game-bag. After loading his gun, Levin moves on; the sun has fully risen and the marsh is beginning to come to life. He sees an old peasant man, just awake, and a bare-legged boy driving the horses toward the old man. The boy is impressed and Levin is pleased with himself as quickly shoots three snipe in a row.