The Invaders, and Other Stories : Part 3, Chapter 2

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1887

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(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "There are people (we ourselves are such) who realize that our Government is very bad, and who struggle against it." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the laboring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." (From : "To the Czar and His Assistants," by Leo Tolstoy, ....)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From : "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)

(? - 1935)
Nathan Haskell Dole (August 31, 1852 – May 9, 1935) was an American editor, translator, and author. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and graduated from Harvard University in 1874. He was a writer and journalist in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. He translated many works of Leo Tolstoy, and books of other Russians; novels of the Spaniard Armando Palacio Valdés (1886–90); a variety of works from the French and Italian. Nathan Haskell Dole was born August 31, 1852, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He was the second son of his father Reverend Nathan Dole (1811–1855) and mother Caroline (Fletcher) Dole. Dole grew up in the Fletcher homestead, a strict Puritan home, in Norridgewock, Maine, where his grandmother lived and where his mother moved with her two boys after his father died of tuberculosis. Sophie May wrote her Prudy Books in Norridgewock, which probably showed the sort of life Nathan and his older brother Charles Fletcher Dol... (From : Wikipedia.org.)

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Part 3, Chapter 2

Polikéï, as a man of no consequence, and inclined to be disreputable, and moreover as being from another village, had no one to look out for his interests, neither the housekeeper nor the butler, neither the overseer nor the housemaid. And his corner, where he lived with his wife and five children, was as wretched as it could be. The corners had been arranged by the late lamented bárin as follows: The hut was about twenty feet long, and built of stone; in the middle stood the great Russian stove; around it ran a corridor, as the servants called it; and in each corner a room was partitioned off by boards. Of course there was not much room, especially in Polikéï's corner which was next the door. The nuptial couch, with quilted counterpane and chintz pillows; a cradle with a baby in it; a three-legged table which served for cooking, washing, piling up all the household utensils, and as a work-table for Polikéï, who was a horse-doctor; tubs, clothes, hens, a calf, and the seven members of the household,—occupied the corner; and there would mot have been room to move, had it not been that the common stove offered its share of room (though even this was covered with things and human beings), and that it was possible to get out upon the door-steps. It was not always possible, if you stop to think: in October it begins to grow cold, and there was only one warm sheep-skin garment for the whole family. And* so the young children were obliged to get warm by running about, and the older ones by working and taking turns in climbing upon the big stove, where the temperature was as high as ninety degrees. It must have been terrible to live in such circumstances, but they did not find it so: they were able to get along.

Akulína did the washing and mending for her husband and children; she spun and wove and bleached her linen; she cooked and baked at the common stove, and scolded and quarreled with her neighbors. The monthly rations sufficed not only for the children, but also for the feed of the cow. The firewood was plentiful, also fodder for the cattle; and hay from the stable fell to their share. They had an occasional bunch of vegetables. The cow would give them a calf; then they had their hens. Polikéï had charge of the stable: he took care of the young colts, and bled horses and cattle; he cleaned their hoofs, he tapped varicose veins, and made a salve of peculiar virtue, and this brought him in some money and provisions. Some of the oats belonging to the estate also made their way into his possession: in the village there was a man who regularly once a month, for two small measures, gave twenty pounds of mutton.

It would have been easy for them to get along, had there not been moral suffering. But this suffering was severe for the whole family. Polikéï had been from childhood in a stable, in another village. The groom who had charge of him was the worst thief in the neighborhood; the Commune banished him to Siberia. Polikéï soon began to follow this groom's example, and thus became from early youth accustomed to these little tricks, so that afterwards, when he would have been glad to break loose from the habit, he could not.

*

He was young and weak; his father and mother were dead, and his education had been neglected. He liked to get drunk, but he did not like to see things lying round loose: whether it were ropes or saddle, lock or coupling-bolt, or any thing even more costly, no matter, it found its way into Polikéï's possession. Everywhere were men who would take these things, and pay for them in wine or money according to agreement. Money gained this way comes easy, the people say: no learning is needed, no hard work, nothing; and if you try it once, you won't like other work. One thing is, however, not good in such labors: however cheaply and easily things are acquired in this way, and however pleasant life becomes, still there is danger that disaffected people may suddenly object to your profession, and cause you tears, and make your life unhappy.

This was what happened in Polikéï's case. He got married, and God gave him great happiness: his wife, the daughter of a herder, proved to be a healthy, bright, industrious woman. Their children came in quick succession. Polikéï had not entirely abandoned his trade, and all went well. Suddenly temptation came to him, and he fell; and it was a mere trifle that caused his fall. He secreted a pair of leather reins that belonged to a muzhík. He was detected, thrashed, taken to the mistress, and afterwards watched. A second time, a third time, he fell. The people began to make complaints. The overseer threatened to send him to the army; the lady of the house expostulated; his wife wept, and began to pine away: in fact, every thing went entirely wrong. As a man, he was kindly, and not naturally bad, but weak; he loved to drink, and he had such a strong taste for it, that he could* not resist. His wife would scold him and even beat him when he came in drunk, but he would weep. "Wretched man that I am," he would say, "what shall I do? Tear out my eyes. I will swear off, I won't do it again." But lo! in a month's time he goes out, gets drunk, and is not seen for two days.

"Where on earth does he get the money to go on sprees?" the people asked themselves. His latest escapade was in the matter of the office-clock. In the office there was an old clock hanging on the wall. It had not gone for years. Polikéï got into the office alone when it happened to be unlocked. He took a fancy to the clock, carried it off, and disposed of it in town. Not long afterwards it happened that the shop-keeper, to whom he sold it, came out on some holiday to visit his daughter, who was married to one of the house-servants; and he happened to mention the clock. An investigation was made, though it was hardly necessary. The overseer especially disliked Polikéï. The theft was traced to him. They laid the matter before the lady of the house. The lady of the house summoned Polikéï. He fell at her feet, and, with touching contrition, confessed every thing as his wife had counseled him to do. He accomplished it admirably. The lady began to reason with him. She talked and she talked, she lectured and she lectured, about God and duty and the future life, and about his wife, and about his children; and she affected him to tears. The lady said,—

"I will forgive you, only promise me that you will never do it again."

"Never in the world. May the earth swallow me, may I be torn in pieces!" said Polikéï; and he wept in a touching manner.

*

Polikéï went home, and at home wept all day like a calf, and lay on the stove. From that time forth Polikéï had conducted himself in a way above reproach. But his life ceased to be happy. The people regarded him as a thief; and now that the hour of conscription had come, all felt that it was a good way to get rid of him.

Polikéï was a horse-doctor, as we have already said. How he so suddenly developed into a horse-doctor, was a mystery to every one, and to himself most of all. In the stable where he had been with the groom who had been exiled to Siberia, he had fulfilled no other duty than that of clearing manure out of the stalls, or occasionally currying the horses, and carrying water. It was not there that he could have learned it. Then he became a weaver; then he worked in a garden, cleared paths; then he got leave of absence, and became a porter[4] for a merchant. But he could not have got any practice there. But when he was last at home, somehow or other, little by little, his reputation began to spread for having an extraordinary, if not even supernatural, knowledge of the ailments of horses.

He let blood two or three times; then he tripped up a horse, and made an incision in its fetlock; then he asked to have the horse brought to a stall, and began to cut her with a needle until the blood came, although she kicked, and even squealed: and he said that this was meant "to let the blood out from under the hoof." Then he explained to a muzhík that it was necessary to bleed the veins in both frogs "for greater comfort," and he began to strike his wooden mallet upon the blunt lancet. Then under the side of the dvornik's horse he twisted a bandage made of a woman's* kerchief. Finally he began to scatter oil of vitriol over the whole wound, wet it from a bottle, and to give occasionally something to take internally, as it occurred to him. And the more he tormented and killed the poor horses, the more people believed in him, and brought him their horses to cure.

I think that it is pot quite seemly of us gentlemen to make sport of Polikéï. The remedies which he employed to stimulate belief in him were the very same which were efficacious for our fathers, and will be efficacious for us and our children. The muzhík, as he held down the head of his one mare, which not only constituted his wealth, but was almost a part of his family, and watched, with both confidence and terror, Polikéï's face marked by a consequential frown, and his slender hands, with the sleeves rolled up, with which he managed always to pinch the very places that were most tender, and boldly to hack the living body with the secret thought, "Now here's to luck," and making believe that he knew where the blood was, and where the matter, where was the dry and where was the fluid vein, and holding the handkerchief of healing or the phial of sulfuric acid,—this muzhík could not imagine such a thing as Polikéï raising his hand to cut without the requisite knowledge. He himself could not have done such a thing. And, as soon as the incision was made, he did not reproach himself because he had hacked unnecessarily.

I don't know how it is with you; but I have had experience with a doctor who, at my own request, treated people who were very dear to my heart in almost exactly the same way. The veterinary lancet and the mysterious white phial with corrosive sublimate, and the words, "apoplexy, hemorrhoids, blood-letting, pus,"* and so forth, are they so different from "nerves, rheumatism, organism," and the others? Wage du zu irren und zu träumen,—"dare to be in error and to dream,"—was said not only to poets, but to doctors and veterinary surgeons.

[4] dvornik.

(Source: Published by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., New York, 13 Astor Place, 1887.)

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1886 :
Part 3, Chapter 2 -- Publication.

June 09, 2021 18:00:23 :
Part 3, Chapter 2 -- Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

June 09, 2021 18:54:44 :
Part 3, Chapter 2 -- Last Updated on https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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