Then he vividly pictured to himself Bogucharovo, his occupations in the country, his journey to Ryazan; he remembered the peasants and Dron the village elder, and mentally applying to them the Personal Rights he had divided into paragraphs, he felt astonished that he could have spent so much time on such useless work.
For some thirty years Bogucharovo had been managed by the village Elder, Dron, whom the old prince called by the diminutive "Dronushka."
Dron was one of those physically and mentally vigorous peasants who grow big beards as soon as they are of age and go on unchanged till they are sixty or seventy, without a gray hair or the loss of a tooth, as straight and strong at sixty as at thirty.
During the whole time of his service Dron had never been drunk or ill, never after sleepless nights or the hardest tasks had he shown the least fatigue, and though he could not read he had never forgotten a single money account or the number of quarters of flour in any of the endless cartloads he sold for the prince, nor a single shock of the whole corn crop on any single acre of the Bogucharovo fields.
Alpatych, arriving from the devastated Bald Hills estate, sent for his Dron on the day of the prince's funeral and told him to have twelve horses got ready for the princess' carriages and eighteen carts for the things to be removed from Bogucharovo.
But on hearing the order Dron lowered his eyes and remained silent.
Dron replied that the horses of these peasants were away carting.
Alpatych named others, but they too, according to Dron, had no horses available: some horses were carting for the government, others were too weak, and others had died for want of fodder.
Alpatych looked intently at Dron and frowned.
Just as Dron was a model village Elder, so Alpatych had not managed the prince's estates for twenty years in vain.
Having glanced at Dron he at once understood that his answers did not express his personal views but the general mood of the Bogucharovo commune, by which the Elder had already been carried away.
But he also knew that Dron, who had acquired property and was hated by the commune, must be hesitating between the two camps: the masters' and the serfs'.
"I hear," Dron answered without lifting his eyes.
"Eh, Dron, it will turn out badly!" he said, shaking his head.
"The power is in your hands," Dron rejoined sadly.
Eh, Dron, drop it!
Dron was disconcerted, glanced furtively at Alpatych and again lowered his eyes.
Dron suddenly fell on his knees.
Dron got up and was about to say something, but Alpatych interrupted him.
Having wrung a submissive "I understand" from Dron, Alpatych contented himself with that, though he not only doubted but felt almost certain that without the help of troops the carts would not be forthcoming.
At length Dron, the village Elder, entered the room and with a deep bow to Princess Mary came to a halt by the doorpost.
She began asking Dron about the peasants' needs and what there was in Bogucharovo that belonged to the landlord.
"The landlord's grain is all safe," replied Dron proudly.
Dron made no answer but sighed deeply.
Dron looked intently at the princess while she was speaking.
An hour later Dunyasha came to tell the princess that Dron had come, and all the peasants had assembled at the barn by the princess' order and wished to have word with their mistress.
I only told Dron to let them have the grain.
Dron came and confirmed Dunyasha's words; the peasants had come by the princess' order.
Dron only sighed in reply.
I'll go out to them, said Princess Mary, and in spite of the nurse's and Dunyasha's protests she went out into the porch; Dron, Dunyasha, the nurse, and Michael Ivanovich following her.
Having repeated her order to Dron to have horses ready for her departure next morning, she went to her room and remained alone with her own thoughts.
It appeared that the princess' offer of corn to the peasants the previous day, and her talk with Dron and at the meeting, had actually had so bad an effect that Dron had finally given up the keys and joined the peasants and had not appeared when Alpatych sent for him; and that in the morning when the princess gave orders to harness for her journey, the peasants had come in a large crowd to the barn and sent word that they would not let her leave the village: that there was an order not to move, and that they would unharness the horses.
Dron was of this opinion, but as soon as he expressed it Karp and others attacked their ex-Elder.
You begrudged your lump of a son," a little old man suddenly began attacking Dron-- "and so they took my Vanka to be shaved for a soldier!
Dron on the contrary retired to the rear and the crowd drew closer together.
Dron Zakharych, you! meek and flustered voices here and there were heard calling and caps began to come off their heads.
With a pale and frowning face Dron stepped out of the crowd.
And in fact two more peasants began binding Dron, who took off his own belt and handed it to them, as if to aid them.
The peasants were briskly carrying out the proprietor's goods and packing them on the carts, and Dron, liberated at Princess Mary's wish from the cupboard where he had been confined, was standing in the yard directing the men.
Once in summer he had sent for the village elder from Bogucharovo, a man who had succeeded to the post when Dron died and who was accused of dishonesty and various irregularities.