Open main menu

Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/34

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
16
A MORNING OF A LANDED PROPRIETOR

"What life will it be? You judge for yourself: the place has never been inhabited; the quality of the water is unknown; there is no place to drive the cattle to. Our hemp plots have been manured here since time immemorial, but how is it there? Why, there is nothing but barrenness there. Neither fences, nor kilns, nor sheds, — nothing. We shall be ruined, your Grace, if you insist upon our going there, completely ruined! It is a new place, an unknown place —" he repeated, with a melancholy, but firm, shake of his head.

Nekhlyúdov began to prove to the peasant that the transfer would be very profitable to him, that fences and sheds would be put up, that the water was good there, and so forth; but Churís's dull silence embarrassed him, and he felt that he was not saying what he ought to. Churís did not reply; but when the master grew silent, he remarked, with a light smile, that it would be best to settle the old domestic servants and Aléshka the fool in that hamlet, to keep a watch on the grain.

"Now that would be excellent," he remarked, and smiled again. "It is a useless affair, your Grace!"

"What of it if it is an uninhabited place?" Nekhlyúdov expatiated, patiently. "Here was once an uninhabited place, and people are living in it now. And so you had better settle there in a lucky hour — Yes, you had better settle there — "

"But, your Grace, there is no comparison!" Churís answered with animation, as if afraid that the master might have taken his final resolution. "Here is a cheery place, a gay place, and we are used to it, and to the road, and the pond, where the women wash the clothes and the cattle go to water; and all our peasant surroundings have been here since time immemorial, — the threshing-floor, the garden, and the willows that my parents have set out. My grandfather and father have given their souls to God here, and I ask nothing else, your Grace, but to be able