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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/36

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18
A MORNING OF A LANDED PROPRIETOR

was prepared to deprive myself of everything in order to see you contented and happy, — and I vow before God that I will keep my word," said the youthful proprietor, unconscious of the fact that such ebullitions were unable to gain the confidence of any man, least of all a Russian, who loves not words but deeds, and who is averse to the expression of feelings, however beautiful.

The simple-hearted young man was so happy in the sentiment which he was experiencing that he could not help pouring it out.

Churis bent his head sideways and, blinking slowly, listened with forced attention to his master as to a man who must be listened to, though he may say things that are not very agreeable and have not the least reference to the listener.

"But I cannot give everybody all they ask of me. If I did not refuse anybody who asks me for timber, I should soon be left with none myself, and would be unable to give to him who is really in need of it. That is why I have put aside a part of the forest to be used for mending the peasant buildings, and have turned it over to the Commune. That forest is no longer mine, but yours, the peasants', and I have no say about it, but the Commune controls it as it sees fit. Come this evening to the meeting; I will tell the Commune of your need: if it resolves to give you a new hut, it is well, but I have no forest. I am anxious to help you with all my heart; but if you do not want to move, the Commune will have to arrange it for you, and not I. Do you understand me?"

"We are very well satisfied with your favour," answered the embarrassed Churis. "If you will deign to let me have a little timber for the outbuildings, I will manage one way or other. The Commune? Well, we know — "

"No, you had better come."

"Your servant, sir. I shall be there. Why should I not go? Only I will not ask the Commune for anything."