"If I'd only the heart to throw up what's been set going...such a
lot of trouble wasted...I'd turn my back on the whole business,
sell up, go off like Nikolay Ivanovitch...to hear La Belle
Helene," said the landowner, a pleasant smile lighting up his
shrewd old face.
"But you see you don't throw it up," said Nikolay Ivanovitch
Sviazhsky; "so there must be something gained."
"The only gain is that I live in my own house, neither bought
nor hired. Besides, one keeps hoping the people will learn
sense. Though, instead of that, you'd never believe it--the
drunkenness, the immorality! They keep chopping and changing
their bits of land. Not a sight of a horse or a cow. The
peasant's dying of hunger, but just go and take him on as a
laborer, he'll do his best to do you a mischief, and then bring
you up before the justice of the peace."
"But then you make complaints to the justice too," said
"I lodge complaints? Not for anything in the world! Such a
talking, and such a to-do, that one would have cause to regret
it. At the works, for instance, they pocketed the advance-money
and made off. What did the justice do? Why, acquitted them.
Nothing keeps them in order but their own communal court and
their village elder. He'll flog them in the good old style! But
for that there'd be nothing for it but to give it all up and run
Obviously the landowner was chaffing Sviazhsky, who, far from
resenting it, was apparently amused by it.
"But you see we manage our land without such extreme measures,"
said he, smiling: "Levin and I and this gentleman."
He indicated the other landowner.
"Yes, the thing's done at Mihail Petrovitch's, but ask him how
it's done. Do you call that a rational system?" said the
landowner, obviously rather proud of the word "rational."