Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.
the management of the estate, he thought on examining the grasslands that they were worth more, and he fixed the price at twenty-five roubles the three acres.  The peasants would not give that price, and, as Levin suspected, kept off other purchasers.  Then Levin had driven over himself, and arranged to have the grass cut, partly by hired labor, partly at a payment of a certain proportion of the crop.  His own peasants put every hindrance they could in the way of this new arrangement, but it was carried out, and the first year the meadows had yielded a profit almost double.  The previous year—­which was the third year—­the peasants had maintained the same opposition to the arrangement, and the hay had been cut on the same system.  This year the peasants were doing all the mowing for a third of the hay crop, and the village elder had come now to announce that the hay had been cut, and that, fearing rain, they had invited the counting-house clerk over, had divided the crop in his presence, and had raked together eleven stacks as the owner’s share.  From the vague answers to his question how much hay had been cut on the principal meadow, from the hurry of the village elder who had made the division, not asking leave, from the whole tone of the peasant, Levin perceived that there was something wrong in the division of the hay, and made up his mind to drive over himself to look into the matter.

Arriving for dinner at the village, and leaving his horse at the cottage of an old friend of his, the husband of his brother’s wet-nurse, Levin went to see the old man in his bee-house, wanting to find out from him the truth about the hay.  Parmenitch, a talkative, comely old man, gave Levin a very warm welcome, showed him all he was doing, told him everything about his bees and the swarms of that year; but gave vague and unwilling answers to Levin’s inquiries about the mowing.  This confirmed Levin still more in his suspicions.  He went to the hay fields and examined the stacks.  The haystacks could not possibly contain fifty wagon-loads each, and to convict the peasants Levin ordered the wagons that had carried the hay to be brought up directly, to lift one stack, and carry it into the barn.  There turned out to be only thirty-two loads in the stack.  In spite of the village elder’s assertions about the compressibility of hay, and its having settled down in the stacks, and his swearing that everything had been done in the fear of God, Levin stuck to his point that the hay had been divided without his orders, and that, therefore, he would not accept that hay as fifty loads to a stack.  After a prolonged dispute the matter was decided by the peasants taking these eleven stacks, reckoning them as fifty loads each.  The arguments and the division of the haycocks lasted the whole afternoon.  When the last of the hay had been divided, Levin, intrusting the superintendence of the rest to the counting-house clerk, sat down on a haycock marked off by a stake of willow, and looked admiringly at the meadow swarming with peasants.

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Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.