Chapter 10

SHORTLY after his reception into the brotherhood of the freemasons, Pierre set off to the Kiev province, where were the greater number of his peasants, with full instructions written for his guidance in doing his duty on his estates.

On reaching Kiev, Pierre sent for all his stewards to his head counting-house, and explained to them his intentions and his desires. He told them that steps would very shortly be taken for the complete liberation of his peasants from serfdom, that till that time his peasants were not to be overburdened with labour, that the women with children were not to be sent out to work, that assistance was to be given to the peasants, that wrong-doing was to be met with admonishment, and not with corporal punishment; and that on every estate there must be founded hospitals, almshouses, and schools. Several of the stewards (among them were some bailiffs barely able to read and write) listened in dismay, supposing the upshot of the young count’s remarks to be that he was dissatisfied with their management and embezzlement of his money. Others, after the first shock of alarm, derived amusement from Pierre’s lisp and the new words he used that they had not heard before. Others again found a simple satisfaction in hearing the sound of their master’s voice. But some, among them the head steward, divined from this speech how to deal with their master for the attainment of their own ends.

The head steward expressed great sympathy with Pierre’s projects; but observed that, apart from these innovations, matters were in a bad way and needed thoroughly going into.

In spite of Count Bezuhov’s enormous wealth, Pierre ever since he had inherited it, and had been, as people said, in receipt of an annual income of five hundred thousand, had felt much less rich than when he had been receiving an allowance of ten thousand from his father. In general outlines he was vaguely aware of the following budget. About eighty thousand was being paid into the Land Bank as interest on mortgages on his estates. About thirty thousand went to the maintenance of his estate in the suburbs of Moscow, his Moscow house, and his cousins the princesses. About fifteen thousand were given in pensions, and as much more to benevolent institutions. One hundred and fifty thousand were sent to his countess, for her maintenance. Some seventy thousand were paid away as interest on debts. The building of a new church had for the last two years been costing about ten thousand. The remainder—some one hundred thousand—was spent—he hardly knew how—and almost every year he was forced to borrow. Moreover every year the head steward wrote to him of conflagrations, or failures of crops, or of the necessity of rebuilding factories or workshops. And so the first duty with which Pierre was confronted was the one for which he had the least capacity and inclination—attention to practical business.

Every day Pierre went into things with the head steward. But he felt that what he was doing did not advance matters one inch. He felt that all he did was quite apart from the reality, that his efforts had no grip on the business, and would not set it in progress. On one side the head steward put matters in their worst light, proving to Pierre the necessity of paying his debts, and entering upon new undertakings with the labour of his serf peasants, to which Pierre would not agree. On the other side, Pierre urged their entering upon the work of liberation, to which the head steward objected the necessity of first paying off the loans from the Land Bank, and the consequent impossibility of haste in the matter. The head steward did not say that this was utterly impossible; he proposed as the means for attaining this object, the sale of the forests in the Kostroma province, the sale of the lands on the lower Volga, and of the Crimean estate. But all these operations were connected in the head steward’s talk with such a complexity of processes, the removal of certain prohibitory clauses, the obtaining of certain permissions, and so on, that Pierre lost the thread, and could only say: “Yes, yes, do so then.”

Pierre had none of that practical tenacity, which would have made it possible for him to undertake the business himself, and so he did not like it, and only tried to keep up a pretence of going into business before the head steward. The steward too kept up a pretence before the count of regarding his participation in it as of great use to his master, and a great inconvenience to himself.

In Kiev he had acquaintances: persons not acquaintances made haste to become so, and gave a warm welcome to the young man of fortune, the largest landowner of the province, who had come into their

  By PanEris using Melati.

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