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Page:Complete Works of Count Tolstoy - 02.djvu/39

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21
A MORNING OF A LANDED PROPRIETOR

land long ago, and been accounted an old man. Here is Ermilov, Demkin, Zyabrev, — they are all younger than I, but they have long ago given up the land. But I have no one to whom I might turn over the land, — that's where the trouble is. I must support the family, so I am struggling, your Grace."

"I would gladly make it easier for you, really. How can I?" said the young master, sympathetically, looking at the peasant.

"How make it easier? Of course, he who holds land must do the manorial work; that is an established rule. I shall wait for the little fellow to grow up. If it is your will, excuse him from school; for a few days ago the village scribe came and said that your Grace wanted him to come to school. Do excuse him: what mind can he have, your Grace? He is too young, and has not much sense yet."

"No; this, my friend, must be," said the master. "Your boy can comprehend, it is time for him to study. I am saying it for your own good. You judge yourself: when he grows up, and becomes a householder, he will know how to read and write, and he will read in church, — everything will go well with you, with God's aid," said Nekhlyiidov, trying to express himself as clearly as possible, and, at the same time, blushing and stammering.

"No doubt, your Grace, you do not wish us any harm; but there is nobody at home; my wife and I have to work in the manorial field, and, small though he is, he helps us some, by driving the cattle home, and taking the horses to water. As little as he is, he is a peasant all the same," and Churis, smiling, took hold of his boy's nose between his thick fingers, and cleaned it.

"Still, send him when he is at home, and has time, — do you hear? — without fail."

Churis drew a deep sigh, and did not reply.