Our commerce continued in an orderly way, as it had before, but not quite as successfully as it had been in my grandfather’s time. A shipment of grain sank, some debtors failed to pay, thus our fi- nances decreased considerably. Nevertheless, in spite of all this my father had no real difficulty with his business. He was not embar- rassed by his serf status but often felt a certain sadness when he had to obey the landlord’s whims. For example, once the landlord summoned my dad to St. Petersburg and kept him there for almost a year solely to demonstrate to his visitors what peasants he had! Still, relations between my father and the landlord were the best. The lord even empowered my dad to administer the estate and represent him in courts and juridical institutions, where the lieu- tenant-colonel was engaged in some lawsuit with his nephews. This caused our family much trouble and drew my father away from his own business. But, most importantly, the clerks my father dealt with often tempted him into drinking.
In August 1811, after a bout of drinking, my father got very sick. It happened as follows. He went to Moscow to handle some busi- ness errands. There, having got used to partying with officials and clerks, he drank a great deal at a big party and then continued to drink alone the following week. Rumors about it reached our vil- lage. We sent a relative to Moscow to rescue my father. Apparently, the relative had no experience in dealing with people in such a state as my dad had gotten himself into. He took a coach and car- ried my father back home, allowing him neither rest nor vodka on the way. My father arrived back home in such a poor condition that