AND OTHER THINGS
Not long after my return from Moscow, our landlord sent an order to the estate administration, requiring that the rent be collected two years in advance and that the money be deposited in full with the Moscow Council of Trustees (Moskovskii Opekunskii Sovet). (He had made a donation for some charitable purpose.) Those who failed to pay in full were to be drafted into the army. The richer peasants were obliged to pay for those who could not find the money, and by doing so these peasants gained freedom for them- selves and their families from future conscription.
The lord’s order was read at the village assembly. People talked it over and decided to apportion how much money each household had to pay. As bad as peasant life could be, no one wanted to become a soldier and each tried to fulfill his share. My levy was one hundred rubles. I had only seventy rubles in cash and my mother gave me the other thirty. To help me stay in business she also sold her pearl necklace for one hundred and twenty rubles and gave this money to me. This money really helped me. My trade became brisker and I even got outside credit and bought a horse. In the winter I usually traded in flax and yarn. During the summer, I rented an apple or- chard with a friend of mine. This also turned out to be a success. In two months we both gained a profit of eight hundred rubles in cash.
But in the meantime the landlord wrote again to the bailiff, or- dering him to select four tall men no older than twenty, who would be suitable to stand on the footboard at the back of his carriage, as well as four beautiful eighteen-year-old girls. All these people were to be taken personally to the landlord in St. Petersburg...