"Why have I been a fool so long? Why, seeing that fate has appointed me to be ruler of an earthly paradise, did I prefer to bind myself in servitude as a scribe of lifeless documents? To think that, after I had been nurtured and schooled and stored with all the knowledge necessary for the diffusion of good among those under me, and for the improvement of my domain, and for the fulfilment of the manifold duties of a landowner who is at once judge, administrator, and constable of his people, I should have entrusted my estate to an ignorant bailiff, and sought to maintain an absentee guardianship over the affairs of serfs whom I have never met, and of whose capabilities and characters I am yet ignorant! To think that I should have deemed true estate-management inferior to a documentary, fantastical management of provinces which lie a thousand versts away, and which my foot has never trod, and where I could never have effected aught but blunders and irregularities!"
Meanwhile another spectacle was being prepared for him. On learning that the barin was approaching the mansion, the muzhiks collected on the verandah in very variety of picturesque dress and tonsure; and when these good folk surrounded him, and there arose a resounding shout of "Here is our Foster Father! He has remembered us!" and, in spite of themselves, some of the older men and women began weeping as they recalled his grandfather and great-grandfather, he himself could not restrain his tears, but reflected: "How much affection! And in return for what? In return for my never having come to see them--in return for my never having taken the least interest in their affairs!" And then and there he registered a mental vow to share their every task and occupation.
So he applied himself to supervising and administering. He reduced the amount of the barstchina, he decreased the number of working-days for the owner, and he augmented the sum of the peasants' leisure-time. He also dismissed the fool of a bailiff, and took to bearing a personal hand in everything--to being present in the fields, at the threshing-floor, at the kilns, at the wharf, at the freighting of barges and rafts, and at their conveyance down the river: wherefore even the lazy hands began to look to themselves. But this did not last long. The peasant is an observant individual, and Tientietnikov's muzhiks soon scented the fact that, though energetic and desirous of doing much, the barin had no notion how to do it, nor even how to set about it--that, in short, he spoke by the book rather than out of his personal knowledge. Consequently things resulted, not in master and men failing to understand one another, but in their not singing together, in their not producing the very same note.
 In the days of serfdom, the rate of forced labour--so many hours or so many days per week--which the serf had to perform for his proprietor.
That is to say, it was not long before Tientietnikov noticed that on the manorial lands, nothing prospered to the extent that it did on the peasants'. The manorial crops were sown in good time, and came up well, and every one appeared to work his best, so much so that Tientietnikov, who supervised the whole, frequently ordered mugs of vodka to be served out as a reward for the excellence of the labour performed. Yet the rye on the peasants' land had formed into ear, and the oats had begun to shoot their grain, and the millet had filled before, on the manorial lands, the corn had so much as grown to stalk, or the ears had sprouted in embryo. In short, gradually the barin realised that, in spite of favours conferred, the peasants were playing the rogue with him. Next he resorted to remonstrance, but was met with the reply, "How could we not do our best for our barin? You yourself saw how well we laboured at the ploughing and the sowing, for you gave us mugs of vodka for our pains."
"Then why have things turned out so badly?" the barin persisted.
"Who can say? It must be that a grub has eaten the crop from below. Besides, what a summer has it been--never a drop of rain!"
Nevertheless, the barin noted that no grub had eaten the PEASANTS' crops, as well as that the rain had fallen in the most curious fashion--namely, in patches. It had obliged the muzhiks, but had shed a mere sprinkling for the barin.