The Invaders, and Other Stories : Part 3, Chapter 5

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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.)
• "People who take part in Government, or work under its direction, may deceive themselves or their sympathizers by making a show of struggling; but those against whom they struggle (the Government) know quite well, by the strength of the resistance experienced, that these people are not really pulling, but are only pretending to." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "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....)
• "It usually happens that when an idea which has been useful and even necessary in the past becomes superfluous, that idea, after a more or less prolonged struggle, yields its place to a new idea which was till then an ideal, but which thus becomes a present idea." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)

(? - 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 5

Meantime the office was buzzing with the voices of the muzhíks. It was no laughing matter. Almost all the muzhíks were in the meeting; and while Yégor Mikháïlovitch was conferring with her ladyship, the men put on their hats, more voices began to be heard above the general conversation, and the voices became louder.

The murmur of many voices, occasionally interrupted by some eager, heated discourse, filled the air; and this murmur, like the sound of the roaring sea, came to the ears of the lady of the house, who felt at hearing it a nervous unrest analogous to the feeling excited by a heavy thunder-shower. It was neither terrible nor yet unpleasant to her. It seemed to her that the voices kept growing louder and more turbulent, and then some one person would make himself heard. "Why should it be impossible to do every thing gently, peaceably, without quarrel, without noise?" she said, "according to the sweet law of Christianity and brotherly love?"

Many voices suddenly were heard together, but louder than all shouted Feódor Rézun, the carpenter. He was a man who had two grown sons, and he attacked the Dutlofs. The old man Dutlof spoke in his own defense; he came out in front of the crowd, behind which he had been standing, and spreading his arms wide and lifting up his beard spoke so rapidly, in a choked voice, that it would have been hard for himse* lf to know what he was saying. His children and nephews, fine young fellows, stood and pressed behind him; and the old man Dutlof reminded one of the one who is the old hen in the game of Korshun,[6] or "Hawk." Rézun was the hawk; and not Rézun alone, but all those who had two sons, and all the bachelors, almost all the meeting, in fact, united against Dutlof. The trouble lay in this: Dutlofs brother had been sent as a soldier thirty years before; and therefore he did not wish to be considered as one of those who had three men in the family, but he desired his brother's service to be taken into account, and that he should be reckoned as one who had two grown assistants, and that the third recruit should be taken from that set.

There were four families, besides Dutlofs, that had three able-bodied men. But one was the village elder's, and his mistress had freed him from service. From another family, a recruit had been taken at the last conscription. From the other two families, two men had been already nominated, and one of them had not come to the meeting; but his wife stood, heavy at heart, in the very rear, anxiously hoping that somehow the wheel would turn in favor of her happiness. The other of the two nominees, the red-haired Román, in a torn cloak (though he was not poor), stood leaning against the door-step, with downcast head; he said nothing all the while, but occasionally looked up attentively when any one spoke louder than usual, and then dropped his head again; and thus his unhappiness was expressed in his whole appearance. The old man, Sem'yón Dutlof, would have given the impression, even to these who knew him slightly, that he had laid up* hundreds and thousands of rubles. He was dignified, God-fearing, substantial; he was, moreover, an elder of the Church. So much the more striking was the chance in which he found himself.

Rézun the carpenter was, on the contrary, a tall, dark, dissipated man, quick to quarrel, and fond of speaking in meetings and in the market-place, with workmen, merchants, muzhíks, or gentlemen. Now he was calm and sarcastic, and with all the advantage of his stature, all the force of his loud voice, and his oratorical talent, was nagging the elder of the church, who was such a slip-shod speaker, and had been driven far out of his path.

The others who took part in the discussion were as follows: The round-faced, young-looking Garaska Kopilof, stocky, with a four-square head, and curly beard; one of the speakers who imitated Rézun rather than the younger generation, always distinguished for his bitter speech, and already a man of weight in the meeting. Then Féodor Melnitchnui, a tall, yellow, gaunt, round-shouldered muzhík, also young, with thin hair and beard, and with small eyes; always prone to anger, sour-tempered, ready to see every one's bad side, and frequently embarrassing the meeting with his abrupt and unexpected questions and remarks. Both of these speakers were on Rézun's side. Moreover, two chatterers occasionally took part,—one who had a good-natured phiz, and a large and bushy red beard; his name was Khrapkof, and he was forever saying, "My dearly beloved friend:" and the other, Zhidkof, a small man, with a bird-like face, who was also in the habit of saying, "It follows, my brethren;" he kept turning to all sides, and his words were without rhyme or reason. One of these two took one side, the other* the other; but no one heeded what they said. There were others like them; but these two kept moving in and out in the crowd, shouted more than anybody else, disturbing the mistress, were listened to less than anybody else, and, being confused by the racket and shouting, found full satisfaction in talking nonsense.

There were many different characters in this group of peasants: some were morose, some courteous, some indifferent, some disputatious; there were also a few women behind the muzhíks, with sticks. But about all these I will tell some other time, as God shall give. The throng consisted, for the most part, however, of muzhíks, who behaved during the meeting as though it were church, and standing in the rear talked in a whisper about their domestic affairs, exchanging views, for instance, about the best time for beginning to cut their wood, or quietly hoped that they soon adjourn the meeting. And then there were some well-to-do men, whose comfort the meeting could not benefit or curtail. To this number belonged Yermil, with his broad, shiny face, whom the muzhíks called "big-belly" because he was rich. To this number also belonged Starostin, on whose face a self-satisfied expression of power was habitual: "Say whatever you please among yourselves, but I am safe enough. I have four sons, but you won't take any of them." Occasionally, the opinionated young orators, like Kopilof or Rézun, would have a fling at them; and they would reply, but calmly and decidedly in the consciousness of their unassailable position.

However much Dutlof was like the old hen in the game of "Hawk," it could not be said that his lads were like the chickens. They did not hop about nor scream, but stood calmly behind him. The oldest,* Ignat, was now thirty years old; the second, Vasíli, was already married, but was not old enough to come under the conscription; the third, Ilyushka, the nephew who had just been married, had a red and white complexion, and was dressed in an elegant sheepskin coat (he was a driver[7] by profession); he stood gazing at the people, occasionally scratching the back of his head under the cap, as though the affair did not concern him at all any more than if it were the game of "Hawk."

"Because my grandfather went as a soldier," Rézun was saying, "that's no reason why I should refuse the lot. Friends, it is no kind of a law at all. At the last conscription they took Mikhéichef, and his uncle is still in the service."

"Neither your father nor your uncle ever served the Czar both at once," said Dutlof, "and you never served gentlemen nor the Commune; but you've always been a tippler, and your children take after you. It's impossible to live with you, and yet you point out other men. But for ten years I have been police-commissioner,[8] and I have been elder, and twice I have been burnt out, and no one ever helped me; and is it because we live peaceably at our place, aye and honorably, that I am to be ruined? Give me back my brother. He died there, didn't he? Judge right, judge according to God's law, O orthodox Commune! and do not listen to the lies of that drunkard."

At this instant Gerásim said to Dutlof,—

"You refer to your brother. But he was not sent by the Commune, but the master sent him because of his good-for-nothingness; so he's no excuse for you."

*

Gerásim had no chance to say another word, for the tall, yellow Feódor Melnitchnui leaning forward began to speak in a gloomy tone:—

"Well, masters send whomever they please; then let the Commune make the best of it. The Commune tells your son to go; and if you don't like it, ask the mistress: she has the right to command me or any of my children to wear the uniform. A fine law!" said he bitterly; and, again waving his hand, took his former place.

The red-haired Román, whose son had been drafted, lifted his head, and said, "That's so, that's so," and sat down morosely on the step.

But there were many other voices that also joined suddenly in the hubbub. Besides those who stood in the background and talked about their affairs, there were the babblers, who did not forget their duty.

"Certainly, O orthodox Commune," said the little Zhidkof, slightly varying Dutlofs words, "it is necessary to decide according to Christianity; according to Christianity, my brethren, it is necessary to decide."

"It is necessary to decide on our consciences, my dearly beloved friend," said the good-natured Khrapkof, slightly varying Kopilof's words, and taking hold of Dutlofs sheepskin coat; "it is according to the will of our lady, and not the decision of the Commune."

"Indeed, how is that?" exclaimed several.

"What's that drunken fellow barking about?" retorted Rézun. "Did you get me drunk, or was it your son whom they have found rolling round in the road, and does he dare to fling at me about drink? I tell you, brethren, we must act more wisely. If you want to let Dutlof off, though he is not of those w* ho have two grown men, then name some one who has only one son; but he will laugh at us."

"Let Dutlof go. What's to be said?"

"Of course. We must cast lots for the men of large family[9] first," said several voices.

"Just as the mistress commands. Yégor Mikháiluitch said she wanted to send one of the household servants," said some one's voice.

This observation raised a great hubbub; but it quickly subsided, and single individuals again got the floor.

Ignat, who, according to Rerun's remark, had been found drunk in the street, began to accuse Rézun of having stolen a saw of some passing carpenter, and of having beaten his wife almost to death during a drunken spree.

Rézun replied that he beat his wife when he was sober as well as when he was drunk, and very little anyway; and this made every one laugh. Referring to the saw he suddenly lost his temper, and pressing nearer to Ignat began to question him:—

"Who was it stole the saw?"

"You did," replied the strong Ignat, boldly advancing still nearer to him.

"Who stole it? Wasn't it yourself?"

"No, you!" screamed Ignat.

After the saw, they disputed about the stealing of a horse, then of some bags of oats, then of some vegetables from the fields, then of some dead body. And such strange things both muzhíks said of each other, that if the hundredth part of their mutual charges had been true, it would have been incumbent on the authorities according to law to send both of them* instanter to Siberia at the least.

Dutlof meantime sought another kind of protection. His son's outburst had not been pleasing to him; in order to restrain him he said, "It's a sin! it's no use, I tell you." And he himself went to work to show that the men whose sons lived under the same roof with their fathers were no more to be put in the category of those liable to the subscription than those whose sons lived on separate farms: and he referred to Stárostin.

Stárostin smiled slightly, gave a snort, and, stroking his beard after the manner of the well-to-do muzhík, he replied that it was as it seemed fit to her ladyship; his son would go, of course, if she ordered him to go.

As regarded divided families, Gerásim also demolished Dutlofs arguments, remarking that it was far better not to allow families to live apart, as it had been in the time of the old bárin; that "at the end of summer it isn't the time to get strawberries" (that is, it was too late to talk about it); that now it wasn't the time to send those who were the sole protection of their families.

"Do we set up separate establishments just for the fun of it? Why shouldn't we get some advantage for it?" asked some of those who had left their fathers' houses; and the babblers took the same side.

"Well, hire a substitute if you don't like it. You can afford it," said Rézun to Dutlof.

Dutlof in despair buttoned up his caftan, and turned to the other muzhíks.

"You seem to know a good deal about my affairs," he replied viciously. "Here comes Yégor with word from the mistress."

[6] A game somewhat like "snap the whip."

[7] yamshchík.

[8] sotsky, centurion; an officer chosen by the Commune.

[9] troïniki: a peasant family with three able-bodied men.

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

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

November 30, 1886 :
Part 3, Chapter 5 -- Publication.

June 09, 2021 18:03:00 :
Part 3, Chapter 5 -- Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

June 09, 2021 18:55:03 :
Part 3, Chapter 5 -- Last Updated on https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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