had originated a leading idea - he could say it without self-flattery - calculated to clear up the whole business, to strengthen him in his official career, to discomfit his enemies, and thereby to be of the greatest benefit to the State. Directly the servant had set the tea and left the room, Alexei Alexandrovich got up and went to the writing table. Moving into the middle of the table a portfolio of current papers, with a scarcely perceptible smile of self-satisfaction, he took a pencil from a rack and plunged into the perusal of a complex report relating to the present complication. The complication was of this nature: Alexei Alexandrovich's characteristic quality as a politician, that special individual qualification that every rising functionary possesses, the qualification that with his unflagging ambition, his reserve, his honesty, and his self-confidence had made his career, was his contempt for red tape, his cutting down of correspondence, his direct contact, wherever possible, with the living fact, and his economy. It happened that the famous Commission of the 2nd of June had set on foot an inquiry into the irrigation of lands in the Zaraisky province, which fell under Alexei Alexandrovich's department, and was a glaring example of fruitless expenditure and paper reforms. Alexei Alexandrovich was aware of the truth of this. The irrigation of these lands in the Zaraisky province had been initiated by the predecessor of Alexei Alexandrovich's predecessor. And vast sums of money had actually been spent, and were still being spent, on this business, and utterly unproductively, and the whole business could obviously lead to nothing whatever. Alexei Alexandrovich had perceived this at once on entering office, and would have liked to lay hands on the business. But at first, when he did not yet feel secure in his position, he knew it would affect too many interests, and would be imprudent; later on he had been engrossed in other questions, and had simply forgotten this case. It went of itself, like all such cases, by the mere force of inertia. (Many people gained their livelihood by this business, especially one highly conscientious and musical family: all the daughters played on stringed instruments, and Alexei Alexandrovich knew the family and had stood godfather to one of the elder daughters.) The raising of this question by a hostile Ministry was in Alexei Alexandrovich's opinion a dishonorable proceeding, seeing that in every Ministry there were things similar and worse, which no one inquired into, for well-known reasons of official etiquette. However, now that the gauntlet had been thrown down to him, he had boldly picked it up and demanded the appointment of a special commission to investigate and verify the working of the Commission of Irrigation of the lands in the Zaraisky province; but in compensation he gave no quarter to the enemy either. He demanded also the appointment of another special commission to inquire into the question of the Native Tribes Organization. The question of the Native Tribes had been brought up incidentally in the Committee of the 2nd of June, and had been pressed forward actively by Alexei Alexandrovich, as one admitting of no delay on account of the deplorable condition of the native tribes. In the Committee this question had been a ground of contention between several Ministries. The Ministry hostile to Alexei Alexandrovich proved that the condition of the native tribes was exceedingly flourishing, that the proposed reconstruction might be the ruin of their prosperity, and that if there were anything wrong, it arose mainly from the failure on the part of Alexei Alexandrovich's Ministry to carry out the measures prescribed by law. Now Alexei Alexandrovich intended to demand: First, that a new commission should be formed which should be empowered to investigate the condition of the native tribes on the spot; secondly, if it should appear that the condition of the native tribes actually was such as it appeared to be from the official data in the hands of the Committee, that another new scientific commission should be appointed to investigate the deplorable condition of the native tribes from the - (a) political, (b) administrative, (c) economic, (d) ethnographical, (e) material, and (f ) religious points of view; thirdly, that evidence should be required from the rival Ministry of the measures that had been taken during the last ten years by that Ministry for averting the disastrous conditions in which the native tribes were now placed; and, fourthly and finally, that that Ministry be asked to explain why it had, as appeared from the reports submitted before the Committee, under Nos. 17,015 and 18,308, dated December 5, 1863, and June 7, 1864 respectively, acted in direct contravention of the intention of the basic and organic law, T... Statute 18, and the note to Statute 36. A flush of eagerness suffused the face of Alexei Alexandrovich as he rapidly wrote out a synopsis of these ideas for his own benefit. Having filled a sheet of paper, he got up, rang, and sent a note to the head clerk to look up certain necessary facts for him. Getting up and walking about the room, he glanced again at the portrait, frowned, and smiled contemptuously. After reading a little more of the book on Eugubine inscriptions, and renewing his interest in it, Alexei Alexandrovich went to bed at eleven o'clock, and recollecting as he lay in bed the incident with his wife, he saw it now in by no means so gloomy a light.

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