"What have they been ploughing?" asked Levin.
"Ploughing up the potatoes. We rent a bit of land too. Fedot,
don't let out the gelding, but take it to the trough, and we'll
put the other in harness."
"Oh, father, the ploughshares I ordered, has he brought them
along?" asked the big, healthy-looking fellow, obviously the old
"There...in the outer room," answered the old man, bundling
together the harness he had taken off, and flinging it on the
ground. "You can put them on, while they have dinner."
The good-looking young woman came into the outer room with the
full pails dragging at her shoulders. More women came on the
scene from somewhere, young and handsome, middle-aged, old and
ugly, with children and without children.
The samovar was beginning to sing; the laborers and the family,
having disposed of the horses, came in to dinner. Levin, getting
his provisions out of his carriage, invited the old man to take
tea with him.
"Well, I have had some today already," said the old man,
obviously accepting the invitation with pleasure. "But just a
glass for company."
Over their tea Levin heard all about the old man's farming. Ten
years before, the old man had rented three hundred acres from the
lady who owned them, and a year ago he had bought them and rented
another three hundred from a neighboring landowner. A small part
of the land--the worst part--he let out for rent, while a
hundred acres of arable land he cultivated himself with his
family and two hired laborers. The old man complained that
things were doing badly. But Levin saw that he simply did so
from a feeling of propriety, and that his farm was in a
flourishing condition. If it had been unsuccessful he would not
have bought land at thirty-five roubles the acre, he would not
have married his three sons and a nephew, he would not have
rebuilt twice after fires, and each time on a larger scale. In
spite of the old man's complaints, it was evident that he was
proud, and justly proud, of his prosperity, proud of his sons,
his nephew, his sons' wives, his horses and his cows, and
especially of the fact that he was keeping all this farming
going. From his conversation with the old man, Levin thought he
was not averse to new methods either. He had planted a great
many potatoes, and his potatoes, as Levin had seen driving past,
were already past flowering and beginning to die down, while
Levin's were only just coming into flower. He earthed up his
potatoes with a modern plough borrowed from a neighboring
landowner. He sowed wheat. The trifling fact that, thinning out
his rye, the old man used the rye he thinned out for his horses,
specially struck Levin. How many times had Levin seen this
splendid fodder wasted, and tried to get it saved; but always it
had turned out to be impossible. The peasant got this done, and
he could not say enough in praise of it as food for the beasts.