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DEATH OF HIS BROTHER NICOLAS

55

February 19th, 1861, the day of the liberation of the serfs, had arrived. Tolstoy hurried back to Russia, having been appointed a "Mediator" between the peasants and the nobility of his province.

As a Mediator, Tolstoy took at once the side of the peasants, defending their interests against their former masters, who reluctantly obeyed their monarch's will, and tried by every means to cheat the former serfs. Naturally, by acting thus, Tolstoy provoked quite a storm of anger amongst the nobility. Secret denunciations were pouring into the central government, and his position became untenable, so that in less than a year he was obliged to tender his resignation. With his whole heart he then devoted himself to the problem of elementary education.

Just at that time, in 1861, he had the misfortune to quarrel seriously with Turgenef. Their mutual friend, Fet, in his "Memoirs," gives this episode in detail. The quarrel broke out in his house, when Turgenef and Tolstoy were his guests. The insignificance of the cause—the question of the education of Turgenef's daughter—shows clearly that this was only the outbreak of a long-standing, hidden, mutual disagreement. Only the noble