Chapter 29

The carrying out of Levin's plan presented many difficulties; but he struggled on, doing his utmost, and attained a result which, though not what he desired, was enough to enable him, without self-deception, to believe that the attempt was worth the trouble. One of the chief difficulties was that the process of cultivating the land was in full swing, that it was impossible to stop everything and begin it all again from the beginning, and the machine had to be mended while in motion.

When on the evening of his arrival home he informed the bailiff of his plans, the latter with visible pleasure agreed with what he said, so long as he was pointing out that all that had been done up to that time was stupid and useless. The bailiff said that he had said so a long while ago, but no heed had been paid him. But as for the proposal made by Levin - to take a part as shareholder with his laborers in each agricultural undertaking - at this the bailiff simply expressed a profound despondency, and offered no definite opinion, but began immediately talking of the urgent necessity of carrying the remaining sheaves of rye the next day, and of sending the men out for the second plowing, so that Levin felt that this was not the time for discussing it.

On beginning to talk to the peasants about it, and making a proposition to cede them the land on new terms, he came into collision with the same great difficulty - that they were so much absorbed by the current work of the day that they had not time to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed scheme.

The simplehearted Ivan, the cowherd, seemed to grasp Levin's proposal fully - that he should with his family take a share of the profits of the cattle yard - and he was in complete sympathy with the plan. But when Levin hinted at the future advantages, Ivan's face expressed alarm and regret that he could not hear all he had to say, and he made haste to find himself some task that would admit of no delay: he either snatched up the fork to pitch the hay out of the pens, or ran to get water or to clear out the manure.

Another difficulty lay in the invincible disbelief of the peasants that a landowner's object could be anything else than a desire to squeeze all he could out of them. They were firmly convinced that his real aim (whatever he might say to them) would always be in what he did not say to them. And they themselves, in giving their opinion, said a great deal but never said what was their real object. Moreover (Levin felt that the irascible landowner had been right) the peasants made their first and unalterable condition of any agreement whatsoever that they should not be forced to any new methods of tillage of any kind, nor to use new implements. They agreed that the modern plow plowed better, that the scarifier did the work more quickly, but they found thousands of reasons that made it out of the question for them to use either of them; and though he had accepted the conviction that he would have to lower the standard of cultivation, he felt sorry to give up improved methods, the advantages of which were so obvious. But in spite of all these difficulties he got his way, and by autumn the system was working, or at least so it seemed to him.

At first Levin had thought of giving up the whole farming of the land just as it was to the peasants, the laborers, and the bailiff, on new conditions of partnership; but he was very soon convinced that this was impossible, and determined to divide it up. The cattle yard, the garden, hayfields, and arable land, divided into several parts, had to be made into separate lots. The simplehearted cowherd, Ivan, who, Levin fancied, understood the matter better than any of them, collecting together a gang of workers to help him, principally of his own family, became a partner in the cattle yard. A distant part of the estate, a tract of wasteland that had lain fallow for eight years, was with the help of the clever carpenter, Fiodor Rezunov, taken by six families of peasants on new conditions of partnership and the peasant Shuraev took the management of all the vegetable gardens on the same terms. The remainder of the land was still worked on the old system, but these three items were the first step to a new organization of the whole, and they completely engrossed Levin.

It is true that in the cattle yard things went no better than before, and Ivan strenuously opposed warm housing for the cows and butter made of fresh cream, affirming that cows require less food if kept cold, and that butter is more profitable made from sour cream, and he asked for wages just as under the old

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